There was a time when I felt safe around cops. I went through the D.A.R.E program, I was friends with the Student Resource Officers in my middle school, and I loved talking to the officer that patrolled my neighborhood on foot. As I got older, that feeling of safety lessened.
When I was in high school, I saw an SRO punch a kid in the nose.
When I was in college, an officer broke a woman’s car window when she mistakenly went the wrong way during homecoming.
As an adult, story after story of cops maiming and killing Black people and mentally ill people finally fully eroded away the trust I once placed in law enforcement. Now when I see a cop or a cop car, my heartbeat speeds up and my stomach falls to my feet.
I’m nervous and anxious even though I’ve done nothing wrong. I tell myself I’m being silly, but then I think about all those other Black men and women, Black boys and girls who had been doing nothing wrong but still wound up hurt or dead at the hands of police.
Patrols have increased around the city because of the holiday weekend and because that’s just what happens during the summer, and instead of feeling safer I feel more anxious than ever. Every time I see a cop car in my rearview mirror I start asking myself questions.
What if I get stopped?
Will I be safe?
Will they blame it on my mental illness?
Will they say I was a danger to my children?
Will they hurt my kids?
Will I become a hashtag?
Will anyone care enough to make me a hashtag?
I don’t want to be a hashtag. I don’t want to be another name on the already too long list of people killed by police. The police are supposed to “protect and serve” the citizens, and yet the only people they seem to be protecting and serving are their brothers and sisters in blue. Everyone else is thrown to the wolves.
Nobody should feel this way and it’s a major problem that so many of us do. Something has to change, and soon. I’m tired of seeing the bodies pile up as cops do whatever they please with little to no consequences.