Teen Vogue op-ed argues Black officers are oppressors: Policing is ‘systemically racist,’ ‘innately violent’

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An op-ed in Teen Vogue decried that all Black police officers are taking the side of the oppressors and are aiding in the oppression of the Black community.

Public defender Olayemi Olurin wrote an op-ed titled, “Tyre Nichols Was Killed By Black Police Officers Because the Whole System Is Racist.” She argued how “diversifying police departments can’t change the fact that policing is systemically racist and innately violent.”

The op-ed was in response to 29-year-old Tyre Nichols was beaten to death by police officers during a traffic stop. Officials released footage last week showing Nichols’ beating by five Memphis, Tennessee, police officers, all of whom were Black. Nichols died at the hospital three days after his arrest.

MEMPHIS POLICE TO RELEASE MORE AUDIO, VIDEO FROM TYRE NICHOLS TRAFFIC STOP 

"Elite" policing units like Memphis, Tennessee's former SCORPION team have drawn criticism following public response to the beating of Tyre Nichols.

“Elite” policing units like Memphis, Tennessee’s former SCORPION team have drawn criticism following public response to the beating of Tyre Nichols.
(City of Memphis via AP, File)

Despite all the officers being Black, Olurin said Nichols’ death was still an example of White supremacy and systemic racism. 

“First: There doesn’t need to be a white person in the room for white supremacy to function,” Olurin wrote. “Second: Although white supremacy wholeheartedly welcomes Black cops (and any other Black person who wants in) to be its agents, it will never protect you as it protects its own.”

Olurin went on to say that the act of policing in itself is racist. 

“Diversifying police departments doesn’t address the fact that policing is as systemically racist as it is innately violent,” she wrote. “All too often, hiring more Black and brown officers just provides us with the privilege of being brutalized by people who look like us.”

She continued, “The danger posed by the Black police officer is well known and documented across the Black community,” citing some people suspect a Black officer will be more violent as a means of signaling he is different from other Black Americans.

She also quoted a statement from writer Anthony Conwright, “Americans are all anti-Black, because anti-Blackness is the governing force of the country’s interests.”

Police officers take a demonstrator, who smashed the window of a police car, into custody during the protest against the police assault of Tyre Nichols at Times Square in New York, United States on January 27, 2023. 

Police officers take a demonstrator, who smashed the window of a police car, into custody during the protest against the police assault of Tyre Nichols at Times Square in New York, United States on January 27, 2023. 
(Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

FORMER MEMPHIS COP CHARGED IN TYRE NICHOLS’ DEATH ALLEGEDLY BEAT UP INMATE IN 2015 

After saying that many Americans mentally distance the officers from policing as an institution, she noted she wants them to be an “example” to her readers.

“I’m not defending the Memphis officers; I don’t sympathize with them. I, like their police department and the media, wish to make an example of them, but for different reasons,” she wrote. “I want to offer them as proof of this very simple truth: You can choose to align yourself with your oppressors and help them oppress your community; they won’t stop you, they’ll even welcome you, but they will not protect you.”

She concluded her piece by appearing to suggest that Black people, by becoming police officers, are traitors to their ethnic community.

Demonstrators gather during a protest in Times Square on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, in New York, in response to the death of Tyre Nichols, who died after being beaten by Memphis police during a traffic stop. 

Demonstrators gather during a protest in Times Square on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, in New York, in response to the death of Tyre Nichols, who died after being beaten by Memphis police during a traffic stop. 
(AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

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“As a Black person, you can choose to work against your own community to your perceived advantage, but you must always remember that the white supremacists you may think are tokenizing and validating you are really just using you to legitimize their power over you,” she wrote. “For that reason alone, you are allowed to act. In their eyes, you are no less inferior, and you are no more deserving. You are a tool, and should you cease to be useful, you will be discarded — just as these officers have been.”

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