by Kenneth Sullivan…
In this age of tweet, Instagram and sound bites, we have learned to shorten our opinions to a limited number of characters. This means we do not give complete thoughts in our public opinions. I read in the Citizen a comment that inferred that Black Folks are inherently bad people. This is not true. The fact is the police in Key West, and nationwide, target Black Folks; particularly young Black males. That’s why there appears to be more crime in the black community, making it seem that crime is rampant and the folks are just criminal minded and bad. Again, not true. There are criminals everywhere, but every time a white man does something wrong, he is not held up as a representative of his entire race.
Obviously, the author of the opinion is not Black, and does not live in or frequent the neighborhood, or he/she would have a different life experience and would not make the assumptions they wrote about. They would know what it is like to have your family and friends stopped, searched and questioned for no reason other than being Black, or being in the wrong place at the right time to be accosted by the law. When you are the target of law enforcement you are more likely to have encounters. More encounters means more opportunity for you to become a victim of violence at the hands of the police who, in my experience, do not ask you nicely to do anything when they decide to arrest. The police approach folks in certain areas with a “them against us” posture from the outset. I have never heard of a sting operation being conducted at the downtown bars and restaurants, only Bahama Village & Stock Island are targeted for these types of operations.
In my experience being a “Black Man in America”, I have been stopped many times and many of the encounters were unnecessary and clearly racial profiling. (When was the last time you were stopped and searched by the cops in your own neighborhood when you have already shown the cop your ID that clearly has your address on it?) When a cop pulls me over, in my mind I think this could be it. I could end up beat down, locked up or dead (unprovoked). The officer may take my standing up for my rights as aggression or he may take his frustrations out on me because he is having a bad day. I have to give instructions to our kids, friends and family on how to act and what to say if they are approached by law enforcement just to visit the neighborhood. If you are not Black you will never know the feeling that dealing with the police can get you hurt.
Understand, the problem in Key West is the same problem nationwide. That problem is we do not know each other. This can be fixed. All we need to do is: 1st take the cops out of the cars, partner them up and have them walk the beat. Make sure they interact with the people who live in the neighborhood and we all must live by the golden rule: to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Just a note for the record: The neighborhood commonly called Bahama Village is no longer a majority minority community. It is 50/50 at best but this does not change the way the cops act towards the residents.