The police violence against black citizen’s that we have become accustomed to seeing is nothing new. Many of us can remember the brutal beaten Rodney King received by the hands of the Los Angeles Police Department in 1991, not to mention the horrible visuals from the riots in the 1960s that can still be found online today that displayed police officers allowing dogs to attack black citizens.
To get a better understanding of this type of behavior, one must pay close attention to how police units were formed in this country. In the early 1700s when the southern colonies began to rely on agriculture as its economic base, the slave trade became even more valuable. In some colonies, African slaves began to outnumber whites, so vigilante groups were created to keep them under control.
All white men from 6 to 60 years old were required to enlist and conduct armed patrols every night, harassing the slaves by searching their homes and not allowing them to hang out to late…. sound familiar? After the civil war, many white slave masters realized they could no longer “legally” mistreat slaves based on race, so the slave patrol came to an end. However, a lot of their procedures were adopted by the newly formed police forces that began to pop up around the country in the mid to late 1800s.
Detaining a “suspicious person” or protecting a community from “unruly” citizens were practices that were taken directly from the slave patrols. The militia-based groups adopted the more brutal methods like the Ku Klux Klan. So, what we are witnessing when an innocent melanated person is killed by the hands of a police officer is nothing more than the gruesome history of this country repeating itself.