Guest Post | “Four Wishes” by Donna Akiba Harper

When I wrote Dear Friend, my response to systemic oppression and violence against black bodies, at the beginning of the month, I did not plan to write or post about the subjects again, but frankly, it has been difficult to think about anything else–especially when here we are in the same situation less than two weeks later. 

Many of my friends have been sharing their thoughts and reflections via Facebook and Instagram posts, so I decided to use my “Microblog Mondays” [until further notice] to share some of their perspectives on #BlackLivesMatter, racism, police violence, and living Black in the United States.

Last week I shared a friend’s garden reflection/analogy. For todays’s post Dr. Donna Akiba Harper, a colleague and friend, who lives in the Atlanta area, shares her thoughts on police violence. The exasperated tone of her piece echoes my own feelings.  [This is an excerpt of her post]

***     ***     ***

Rayshard Brooks should not be dead. With all the protests in Atlanta, all over the nation, and all over the world because of the killing of black men, women, and children, why? Why did [now Former Officer] Garrett Rolfe shoot with deadly force? Was he trying to incite violence? There was no reason to use deadly force. Those of us who are not experts are not alone in this thinking. Florida Rep. Val Demings, a former Police Chief who is now in Congress, doesn’t see why deadly force was used against Rayshard Brooks.

In regards to the situation we find ourselves in over and over again:

  1. I wish people would STOP calling the police for everything. We should have teams  of social workers/psychologists who can be called in situations that involve people who are not “committing a crime.” A man running naked through an apartment complex (Anthony Hill) has other issues. A man who is sound asleep in the drive-thru lane of a Wendy’s (Rayshard Brooks) has other issues. I wish we would stop depending on the police to handle everything!!! We don’t need them for non-criminal acts. We need trained social workers/ psychologists.
  2. I wish police would consider the circumstances when they are called. If the “crime” is passing a fake $20 bill (George Floyd) or selling loose cigarettes (Eric Garner), that’s petty. Write a citation! There’s no need to arrest someone for any of those petty “violations.” Thus, there can be no “resisting arrest.”
  3. I wish there would be no more “no knock” warrants. Ever! Anywhere! If the folks who want to “open” cities and states in the era of COVID-19 can walk around outside with huge guns–but that’s no cause for alarm?–how is the “suspicion” of drugs or weapons inside a home enough reason to break into someone’s home at night? Breonna Taylor and Kathryn Johnston were killed by police breaking into the wrong home!!! They should not have died that way!
  4. I wish there would be no more chokeholds or knees on necks, ever! In fact, I wish police would use deadly force only as a last resort–in response to deadly force being used against them. Overall, vast training in de-escalation needs to occur, within police forces AND within the general public. We all need to learn strategies to reduce the anger and violence that so often erupts–in domestic situations and in public, and especially with police. I wish we would learn better ways to deal with everything.

I plan to contact my local police precinct to ask about these things. I figure if we all get busy with local issues and if we press our U.S. Representatives and Senators to pass federal laws, we can bring lasting change.

Things absolutely have to change.

24 thoughts on “Guest Post | “Four Wishes” by Donna Akiba Harper

  1. JoAnna says:

    It’s horrible that it has taken so much pain for things to begin to change, but I’m thankful changes are beginning, at least in small pockets. Thank you for encouraging us to keep working for better cities and states, a better nation, and a better world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • delphini510 says:

      Reading your excellent post I am amazed. Had no idea that police was called for such small matters. Normal human response would help a long way. Either let the naked man run until he gets tired or have someone calm give him a coat and talk to him.

      The sleeping man could be nudged to a bench or such… out of danger and so on.
      The cultures vary between counties. I think the violence in responses sound terrifying.

      Before alienating anyone I will say that every visit to America has been a great pleasure and
      people helpful and easy to be friends with?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Chandra Lynn says:

        Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts. Of course, there are wonderful people everywhere. There are also wonderful police officers. The problems the USA is dealing with are not the result of “individual” actions; it’s the result of ignoring systemic abuses for centuries.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. lloydslensphotographyllc says:

    I often wonder on the other side of time when We all stand before the throne of Christ how people will be shocked to learn that there was never any difference between any of us. No male or female, no red no yellow no black no white. That we were all just the children of God in different vehicles. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ourlittleredhouseblog says:

    So true Chandra. I did not watch the full clip of George Floyd because when I first saw it happen I had to turn away, it was too much, it hurt to see such suffering. I have always had a sensitive soul and I can not even watch most movies that show someone being tortured.
    I did watch the incident in Atlanta and that broke my heart. Rayshard was terrified, you could see that. A counselor would have been perfect for a situation like that. If you watch the full clip you will see it started out with everyone speaking calmly and then it got so bad.
    Rayshard was frightened, he was upset because his mom had died, this is the story I heard, and then he was sleeping in his vehicle because he had been drinking (again from the clip and breath test) and then he gets approached by police which in itself is very scary.
    He was alone, upset, and had the good sense to the sleep it off after maybe trying to forget his pain of loosing someone he loved, he wasn’t driving.
    Sometimes my uncle who is an alcoholic would drink too much and he would tell me stories where he would find a motel and sleep it off by the pool area in a lawn chair so he wouldn’t drive home and endanger everyone including himself. Maybe Rayshard was doing that, he wasn’t harming anyone, let him sleep.
    There was an incident here in our state a few years ago where a teenager with Autism was in a park waiting for his mother across the street talking to his therapist I think, anyway a police officer approached him and asked him what he was doing there. The kid was flapping his hands, he was stemming, but the officer thought he was on drugs and when the kid tried to talk to him in his broken language the cop though he was being sarcastic with him. Autism and language are like that. The cop then told the kid he was going to take him in and started to put hand cuffs on him and the poor kid started screaming and fighting. Most children with Autism do not like to be touched.
    The cop got really aggressive then and got really rough with the kid. Anyway, eventually the mom ran over to see what was happening to her son and the cop was still being aggressive when the mother tried to explain her son was frightened to please uncuff him to calm him down he has Autism. I can’t remember the whole story but the whole police station ended up taking classes and having an expert come into teach the officers how to recognize and deal with anyone on the Autism Spectrum. It was so sad to watch it all happen.
    I love the idea of having a middle person, like a social worker or someone gentle come out for certain situation to calm everyone’s fears. You could see Rayshard was scared for his life and you could also hear the loneliness in his voice when the cops first approached him, he was in emotional pain from the very beginning. He panic and we all do that, it is our instinct to either fight or flight when we feel our lives are in danger. It is such a touchy and sensitive subject so I will leave it at that. So painful to see what is happening everywhere with the violence around the world. I will pray it stops. Stay safe Chandra, you and your family and God Bless you all.

    Liked by 1 person

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