African American police caught in the crossfire

Posted today at 02:27

Between two colors, between two slogans, America has, since this summer, been summoned to choose its side: Black Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter? A familiar dilemma for those who, like Mitchell R. Davis who joined the police force almost thirty years ago, are both black, African American and blue, color of his uniform.

Before becoming a police officer in the suburbs of Chicago (Illinois), he was a young black man who happened to be annoyed by law enforcement. After joining the institution, at the age of 28, some of his colleagues continued to see him as a young black man whose behavior was necessarily suspicious. An uncomfortable experience and sometimes “Humiliating”, which did not dissuade the robust father of a family from making his way in the world of “blues”. Quite the contrary.

In uniform, with a sign

“When we want to change things, it is better to be in the system than outside”, defends the one who is now, at 58, the police chief of the municipality of Hazel Crest, 17,000 inhabitants. This conviction only grew stronger throughout his career. And his commitment still found all its meaning during the summer, during the demonstrations against police violence, organized after the death of George Floyd, suffocated under the knee of a white policeman. This drama, added to an already long list of brutalities against African Americans, has thrown into the streets thousands of people, white and black, determined to denounce a form of systemic racism within the forces of American order.

Mitchell R. Davis didn’t hesitate a moment: in uniform and carrying a Black Lives Matter sign, he joined the parade organized in his town. “I was the only representative of the police”, he admits without bitterness. “I’m sure other police officers, white or black, see things like me and want to improve the situation, but not everyone wants to do it publicly. “

Across the country, other police officers followed his example; in an unprecedented way in this type of protests, some have dropped to one knee, in solidarity with the demonstrators, or placed their handcuffs or bulletproof vests on the ground, as a desire to engage in a peaceful dialogue.

Double loyalty

These euphoric moments already seem far away, but the urgency to denounce the racist biases of the police institution remains. Especially among black agents, caught between two loyalties, between two “families”: the police and the African-American community. An ambivalent situation which makes them “privileged” witnesses of discriminatory practices, in their professional life or their daily life as citizens.

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