As a young black woman living in New York, I have witnessed and experienced the problems within the police justice system first hand. One day when I was in middle school, I gave someone I knew a hug. Two seconds later, a male officer proceeded to check my coat and my hoodie to see if the boy had put something in my pockets. I felt violated in many ways; a male police officer shouldn’t check a girl or woman; I was only a young girl. He never asked to check me—he knew that he was going to be able to do what he wanted at that moment, which is what made the moment traumatizing for me.
After that day, I knew things were only going to get worse for us in the Black community. They prey on young Black kids and young Black adults because some don’t know the law. Kids may not take the time to figure out what’s the correct way to search someone or the correct way to read someone their rights.
The problem starts with the abuse of power that these officers use. Just because they are part of law enforcement doesn’t mean they can treat anybody in any kind of way. We are all human beings and no one wants to be talked to or treated less than human. I believe there is a certain way for police officers to handle situations but I don’t think they know what that is.
Sometimes we rely too much on the police. Police officers are the first people we call for many situations. If they aren’t making us feel safe, why would we want to continue to call them for help? I don’t trust the police because of the things I’ve seen and been through. A lot of things are messed up in the world because of the lack of trust in the police justice system. It’s hard to trust people with so much power who are reckless when it comes to the public, especially Black people. There’s been so much abuse of power but nothing seems to have changed.
Cops don’t get punished for the terrible things they do. If they did, maybe people would feel more safe. Maybe there would be less violence and more trust. The police demand respect but don’t give to the communities they patrol. And they enjoy lenient treatment but don’t give it out. What I mean by that is when cops do illegal things, they don’t get punished the way they punish these young Black people.
Don’t get me wrong, I think there are some people who get the punishment that they deserve. But there are many that do not. This system gives the wrong sentences to the wrong people, and it’s not fair to the people in the community. They should hold themselves to the same standards they expect us to maintain. Cops should have to obey the law and follow rules in the same way the rest of us have to obey the law and follow rules. They shouldn’t be held less accountable because they work for the city or because they took an oath.
This double standard makes it hard for people to obey the law when police officers aren’t doing the same. They should lead by example instead of making an example out of people.
People’s families and lives are ruined by what happens with the police. We need to find a way to make sure that from now on these police officers are held accountable for their actions against us. There is always a way to do things the right way and if the community comes together we can make a difference.
I believe things can change. We just have to remain focused.
Kiara Turner is 23 years old and lives in Brooklyn, NY. A lifelong New Yorker, she has been working since 15 and recently started her own eyelash business — something she has wanted to do for a long time.
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