Wednesday, March 25, 2009

'Officer Friendly' Ain't So Friendly To Transpeople Of Color

One of the things that you grow up with as a person of color in the US is that when it comes to the police, the smiling countenance of 'Officer Friendly' we see in our elementary schools when we are children doesn't translate out in the real world.

As soon as we are old enough, that myth gets busted by our parents and extended family. We are told the long, sad history of police 'patrol and control' tactics in POC communities, see thanks to civil rights era video that the police were the enforcers of Jim Crow segregation and hear snippets of the in house racist police chatter thanks to monitored radio broadcasts.

Note that one of the reasons for the 1966 formation of the Black Panther Party For Self-Defense was weariness about police brutality in the Bay Area.

In many cases POC's try to live our lives so that we have minimum interface time with white-dominated police departments and their officers who live in rural areas or exurbs far from the 'hoods they protect and serve. We know that an encounter with the police from questioning to a simple traffic stop can end in death or injury for an African-American be they male or female.

Add 'transgender' to that mix and it gets ugly in a hurry.

We know that the late Duanna Johnson's beat down by the Memphis Po-Po's last year was caught on tape, but she isn't the only transperson of color who has faced less than civil treatment at the hands of police officers.

In January 2007 former San Antonio Police Sgt. Dean Gutierrez was convicted and sentenced to 24 years in federal prison for civil rights violations and raping Latina transwoman Starlight Bernal on June 10, 2005.

After almost seven years, the Philadelphia Police Department still hasn't come up with any straight answers as to how African-American transwoman Nizah Morris died of a head injury after being given a courtesy ride by them after a December 22, 2002 Christmas party at a Philadelphia bar.

New York transactivist Mariah Lopez was arrested by the NYPD April 24, 2005 while she was waiting at a bus stop for a bus for 'loitering'. During her intake process she was catcalled, had her genitals and breasts “accidentally” brushed against and was examined medically in the correctional facility in front of 20 male officers.

Bear in mind also that the root cause of the Stonewall Riot in New York jumped off by transgender POC's 40 years ago was peeps getting sick of taking police harassment.

The Amnesty International report Stonewalled: Police Abuse and Misconduct Against Lesbian, Gay and Transgender People in the U.S. adds an exclamation point to the less than warm and fuzzy feelings that many transpeople of color have towards the po-po's.

While we know that not all police officers exhibit this behavior and believe that to serve and protect includes ALL citizens, there are still enough that don't to make us extremely aware of the fact that when it comes to transpeople of color, 'Officer Friendly' ain't so friendly.

6 comments:

garbo in paint said...

I hate cops.

I have nothing of intelligence to add. Too angry.

Renee said...

Thanks for speaking out. Officer friendly does not exist. The cops hae done nothing but terrorize the poor and POC forever and a day. Any marginalized person that sees a cop as a friend needs to get their head examined.

Dennis R. Upkins said...

A friend of mine posted today about an issue of a trans WOC and the issues of police officers and trans in general.

http://shemale.livejournal.com/136566.html

As much as it pains me to say it. It might be time for another Stonewall riot.

genevieve said...

Maria Lopez' case happened shortly before I came out. After reading about I was totally disgusted by what happened to her.

Don't think that the cops can get away with that so easy now.

Tara said...

I am both a law enforcement officer and transsexual. This sort of crap wouldn't happen in my department as I am a supervisor. I transitioned in 2002 and surprisingly, am still in charge of all of our marked units. Bad cops are bad cops. Good cops don't like them either. Please visit www.tcops-international.org . I am a founding member. God bless you and thanks.

Monica Roberts said...

Tara,
Thanks...I was wondering if T-COPS still existed.