“This is America; some people spell it with a ‘C’ and some spell it with three ‘K’s,” Brother John Muhammad, president of the Childs Park Neighborhood Association, said at Black and Blue: A Conversation with Black Police Officers, live streamed on Facebook May 25.
The open two-hour discussion, hosted by the Childs Park Neighborhood Association, allowed audience members to ask the police in attendance unflinching questions, such as what it means to be Black and a cop, how to deal with marginalization, and inequity in the workforce.
One resident said that he is determined to raise his kids to not feel threatened by the police, like he did growing up.
“[Black police] presence alone, when you get there, is going to stop things. When you’re not there, you don’t see the over-agressiveness that’s taking place. You don’t see the batteries that are taking place. When you are not there, y’all don’t see when these kids are getting chased by these unmarked cars,” he said.
The origin of the police force in American also came up during conversation: An audience member mentioned that they formed to help white slave owners catch and control slaves.
After another audience member asked about qualified immunity, St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway said, “What we try to do is try to root all of that out. I think we have a good history of doing that. I’m not saying we’re the greatest department in history, what I’m saying is I think we have a lot in place to utilize. From where I started to what it is now, it’s a whole lot better.”
Several questions centered on what it means to be a Black police officer, and those in attendance spoke on being a part of the change. In order to progress and improve, they said, you must continue to learn from the negative.
The participating officers unanimously refuted the idea that “all cops are bad,” but advocated for accountability.
The association plans to make these community conversations a regular event. Check fb.com/MyChildsPark for updates.