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As an African American man who was raised in West Africa and received both his undergraduate and graduate education from Kent State University in Ohio, I was severely traumatized by police harassment as a student because of my race, gender, age, and ethnicity in the 1990s. I have had guns pointed at me jokingly, commanded to stop or lie on the ground, asked not to enter a restaurant for lunch while the open sign was up, and had dogs stop me while being trained. All these incidents happened on my way to class and I was still expected to be as productive as other students.
I soon noticed that about 95% of the time that police stopped me, it was based on an incident that never happened and the other times, it was factual, but my words or actions were intentionally twisted to make me look like I had committed a crime. Most of the time, I had assumed that it was these white police officers that were lying against me just to arrest a black teenager and each argumentative encounter lasted for at least 5 minutes until one of the officers would convince me that an incident was actually reported against me.
Since the incidents were usually a fabrication, I had to rely on a good description of the person or what I said to the person, but the police would either give false description of the complainant to protect them or give false statement of what I said because they wanted to make an arrest. Fortunately for me, I was popular and well liked, so many white students would vouch for me as witnesses openly. This is why I was never shot at, killed, or arrested and it happened every other month.
It was when I got to about my junior year that I saw the pattern that it was the black females that were giving false report to the police about me. White students may call the police publicly if there was some cultural and social misunderstanding, but those secret false calls that left me confused were from the black females who were happily standing nearby to enjoy the arrest. After I was dismissed by police, I would either see white students demanding that the police arrest some black woman who tried to speak with me earlier or a black man would come to me later to identified who it was that spoke to the police.
The sad and painful reality is that police never believes that the black man is telling the truth or is innocent after a complaint has been made against him. I was asked to produce a witness or go to jail even when I now understood who may have called the police on me. Police usually tries to make an arrest after I had walked away from the witnesses and prevent me from going back to get witnesses. Sometimes, police would say that the video was not working, was in the wrong direction, or did not show what I stated whenever I need it to prove my case because the police wanted to protect the complainant.
Police should never allow the need for complaints to tackle crime or just to arrest black men to be more important than the integrity and credibility of the complaint. Unjust arrests and police brutality usually occurs if a false complaint is used to turn police and black men against each other. From my black teenager experience, it seems that white police are trained to arrest black males regardless of the situation without non-black witnesses to vouch for them and black males tend to get argumentative with police when they feel that it is the police intentionally lying against them just to make an arrest.
Did the complainant intentionally tell the police that: The black man had a gun, but it was actually a cellphone? The black male jogger was always the one stealing in the neighborhood? The black man, who was bird watching, was trying to harm her and her dog? The wanted black drug dealer lives in that house where no drug was found? The black professor entering his home is breaking into a home? Or the black man with the counterfeit money does this all the time, but he did not escape? There is no smoke without fire. Police harassment and police brutality are just smoke, but how the compliant was reported against blacks is the fire that put police on high alert to protect their own lives forcefully.