Prison Radio
Sergio Hyland

Finally the shows Cops and Live PD have been canceled. For too long, these shows have been instrumental in perpetuating dangerous stereotypes against the black and brown communities. Cops and Live PD are modern-day renditions of The Birth Of A Nation, and Donald Trump is today’s Woodrow Wilson. Or better yet, these programs are like new-age minstrel shows, and since visual mediums are most impressing upon the human psyche, shows like these have played a significant role in fortifying the racist ideology that permeates legislation and results in mass incarceration, police brutality, and the over-policing of black communities.

Sometimes I’m dumbfounded by the question: why would you run if you’re innocent? (laughs) My response is simple. We run because we’re free. The badge and the gun give police a license to kill us. We know that there’s two kinds of justice in America: one for blacks and one for whites. So the badge and gun are a symbol of safety and protection for the rich; it’s a symbol of death and destruction for the poor. So I want you to understand this: black people run from the police for the exact same reasons why white people don’t run.

Television law enforcement programs deliberately misrepresent the black community. After being canceled, it was discovered that Live PD played a significant role in covering up the killing of an unarmed black man by a Texas police officer. These shows are tools for police departments across the country, and these shows are just another reason why police have too much power. We need to elect officials who would guarantee the defunding of police and the refunding of our communities.

When we’re young, we’re taught that cops protect us by putting the bad guys in jail. That’s the first step of our indoctrination. The second step is to show us who the bad guys are. And since these shows that have been on television, the so-called bad guys have always looked like me and my friends. That’s why we run: because we always feel like we’re the targets. And we know that if there are no cameras around to film the police brutalizing us, nobody will believe us when we proclaim our innocence.

I’m glad that this propaganda machine has been silenced, but it isn’t enough. What must we do to counter the fatal impact that these kinds of shows have had on our society? Watching Rayshard Brooks being gunned down by Atlanta police officers stoke the same feelings of anger, rage, and hopelessness that are engaged while we see black men and women being targeted, stopped and hunted down on Cops and Live PD, all for purposes of entertainment. This change was solely needed, and I’m glad that it finally happened.

My name is Sergio Hyland. I’m from Philadelphia. You can follow me on Instagram @uptownserg.