Police: Protectors or Predators?
By: Anthony Maxwell Illustration: Baggus
On September 20, 2016, Keith Lamont Scott was killed by a Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Officer (CMPD). According to CMPD’s story, Scott was in his car when officers saw him with a weapon. CMPD officers must have super powers because they were able to notice Scott’s alleged illegal activity while they were in the process of serving a warrant on another person. After Keith Lamont Scott became a national issue, then the police said that they found a gun holster and a marijuana joint. Many people questioned whether these items were planted by police officers to cover-up a possible murder case. CMPD’s story seems like it was quickly patched together to cover-up another case of poor police work. On November 30, 2016, R. Andrew Murray, Mecklenburg County District Attorney announced that CMPD officers were justified in killing Keith Lamont Scott. Murray and most district attorneys are very reluctant to charge police officers because they need them to cooperate by testifying in other criminal cases. In short, the police and district attorney are on the same team.
In 2006, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a report stating that white supremacy groups have infiltrated law enforcement agencies. No local, state, or federal agency has investigated CMPD officers to determine if any of its officers have connections to white supremacy groups. Since the release of the FBI’s report, CMPD hired two African American police chiefs. The current CMPD Police Chief, Kerr Putney, holds a powerful position but he lacks the power to fire incompetent police officers or those who display racial bias in carrying out their duties. After Putney recommends that CMPD terminate an officer, the officer has an opportunity to request a hearing with The Civil Service Board, which makes the final decision about the officer’s employment. Since 2006, CMPD’s Police Chief recommended 66 police officers for termination which resulted in only 9 police officers losing their jobs. The Civil Service Board’s rate of terminating police officers is 13.6%. The Civil Service Board is a horse and pony show designed to give the public the impression that they are protecting the public from police misconduct. CMPD identified 66 bad cops and The Civil Service Board finds reasons for the majority of the officers to keep their jobs or allows officers to resign and seek employment at other police departments. I suggest that we rename The Civil Service Board, ‘The Bad Cop Service Board’ since they are in the business of helping bad cops keep their jobs.
Protestors: Freedom Fighters or Criminals?
It was quite interesting to watch the local and national news coverage of The Charlotte Uprising. In a condescending tone, local news anchors told viewers that this wasn’t the right way to protest. What is the right way to protest? How are low-income people who have been intentionally mis-educated and denied opportunities supposed to protest? In 2014, The Charlotte Observer published an article entitled Poverty Spreads Across Mecklenburg County, NC in which researchers found that 25% of Mecklenburg County residents live in poverty. In 2015, The Business Journal published an article entitled Good Luck Escaping Poverty in Mecklenburg County that referenced a Harvard University study that ranked Mecklenburg County the 2nd roughest place in the nation (only behind Baltimore County, MD) for children to escape poverty.
After Keith Lamont Scott was killed by CMPD, the people took to the streets to communicate in their language. Where did these people learn how to protest? They learned from the low performing schools that they were forced to attend. Often times, low-income children appear not to be interested in learning but the root cause is usually connected to homelessness, food insecurity, and low quality learning environments. But even in these poor conditions, these students are taught about the Boston Tea Party. British colonists who were angry because they were required to pay taxes decided to have a revolution. The angry colonists damaged property and disturbed the peace due to high taxes. The Charlotte Uprising protestors followed in the same footsteps of those who our government considers American heroes but they weren’t protesting taxes, they were protesting the national crisis of black men and women being gunned down by police officers. If you consider the protestors criminals, then I guess that you consider the American Revolutionaries criminals too.
Elected Officials: Political Puppets and Parasites
Based on the public protest and the emotionally-charged city council meeting that occurred on September 26, 2016, one might conclude that Charlotte was a majority minority city with elected officials who don’t resemble the population. But that’s not the case. During the time of the Charlotte Uprising, five out of the eleven Charlotte City Councilmen and four of the nine Mecklenburg County were African-American. Many of these elected officials are held in high regard and are popular in the African-American community but collectively they are puppets to Charlotte’s ruling business class. Most of Charlotte’s African-American elected officials seek political contributions, jobs, business partnerships, and future economic opportunities from Charlotte’s ruling business class. They have an outward appearance of power but when the economically powerful business leaders appear, Charlotte’s African-American elected officials bow their heads, tuck their tails, and honor the request of Charlotte’s power brokers. Several months ago, at The Tuesday Morning Forum, Ken Koontz, a retired African-American journalist asked Trevor Fuller, Mecklenburg County Commissioner, if the African-American elected officials in Charlotte-Mecklenburg had a “Black Agenda”. According to Koontz, Fuller quickly began to dance around the question with a response about his personal efforts to address issues in the black community. Fuller’s inability to clearly address the question about an agenda for our community reflects the precarious position of our elected officials. Due to the current power structure, Charlotte’s African-American elected officials subject themselves to serve as puppets to the business class and parasites of the poor and working class African-Americans. Similar to the rest of the nation, Charlotte’s black elected officials are parasites who live off of the backs of the poor; making grand promises of social, political, and economic change only to deliver the same speech during their re-election campaign. After their election and re-election, with great pride, they visit with Charlotte’s ruling business class to discuss how they can use their political position to address the concerns of the business class and achieve their personal ambitions.
What Are Some Solutions?
For the past 30 years, black elected officials have promised us change but they have failed to deliver. The previously mentioned poverty studies, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools homeless student population, and the wealth gap are evidence of their failed promises. During the past 30 years, we elected our “black political leaders” on blind faith, hoping that they would go downtown and do right by us. But that hasn’t worked. Now is the time that we demand that they leave downtown and come back home with some benefits.
Solution #1 Black Political Scorecard
We need to get community centered volunteers who have available time and experience in economics, real estate, social sciences, and politics to develop a black political scorecard. We need these volunteers to have meetings to discuss and release their findings on the policies of our local black elected officials. We can no longer rely exclusively on The Black Political Caucasus or candidates’ statements about their efforts to resolve our collective issues. We need a scorecard grading the candidates based on their results in the following areas: affordable housing, (Pre-K to 12) educational improvements, growth in entrepreneurship, growth in homeownership, reduction in crime, reduction in police brutality, increased youth access to recreation centers, increased funding for constructive youth educational and recreational activities, innovative solutions to poverty, and better public transportation. The members of the scorecard team should be from our grassroots community and they must have term limits.
Solution #2 Quarterly Reports
We must demand that all of our black elected officials come to our community to provide us with a quarterly report on their policy efforts that directly benefit our community. We must force them to provide us with policies that they have developed or supported that solve our collective problems. If they continually fail to produce results, then we should not support them politically. We should not allow them to only send electronic reports, they must physically appear to communicate with their base, answer questions, and hear our concerns.
Solution #3 Bi-Annual Business Forum
We must demand that all of our black elected officials meet with our business community. Just like they are willing to meet with The Chamber of Commerce, The Business Guild, and other business associations, they must meet with our business community. They need to gather information about how to address the concerns of our business community, provide solutions, and report the results to our business community.