When good people do nothing, tyranny reigns. Let us analyze why people are looting and rioting in the wake of George Floyd’s death. It’s because people lose respect for law when the very people responsible for enforcing the law break the law and keep getting away with it.
Police brutality, prosecutorial misconduct, judicial bias, institutional racism, mass incarceration are all examples of the abusive authority that angers and frustrates people. How many times have police officers killed unarmed citizens and either have gotten away with it or have gotten slapped on the wrist? When people witnessed this over and over and over again, they start to ask, “Why should I respect the law when the police don’t?”
But let us ask even deeper questions: where all the so called good cops? If most cops are good cops, then how can so many bad cops not get exposed until they murder someone in cold blood on video cameras? If the institution of law enforcement wasn’t corrupt, then bad cops would get rooted out quick. It would be rare that a bad cop could brutalize people or kill unarmed citizens.
Just think about it! From what I know, the police officer who killed George Floyd wasn’t a rookie. How long has he been on the force? Nobody noticed nothing? Nobody noticed he was a bit too aggressive towards suspects or that he was a bit unprofessional?
I’ve been incarcerated over 23 years. Corrections officers are really no different than police officers in their overall disposition and attitude. There are good correction officers who are laid-back and professional, then there are professional assholes who, who make it their business to be extra mean, extra aggressive. These are the ones who brutalized prisoners or set prisoners up they don’t like, but how can they get away with it with the good correction officers around?
It’s because the idea of snitching, even among police officers and correction officers, is frowned upon. It’s the blue wall or blue code of silence that rules. Being a whistleblower in almost any bureaucracy isn’t celebrated nor encouraged. I can relate all this to my legal battle to get DOCCS to officially recognize and approve UFD.
Good lawyers won’t take on my case pro bono because they fear opening up a can of worms with DOCCS. What exactly does this mean? I really don’t know, but I’ve recognized that there is an overall feeling that the corrections department isn’t to be trifled with. The local news media won’t even report on all the corruption and misconduct that goes on in the prison system, and judges tend to turn a blind eye to it.
It seems like it takes extreme actions to bring about change. People riot and loot: the ages of the system pay attention. But none of the violence would be necessary if good cops, if good correction officers, if good prosecutors, if good lawyers, if good judges, and if good politicians stood up for justice and if they rooted out the corrupt, the violent, the abusive, the indifferent ones within their ranks. Until they do that, all their talk of law and order is just that: talk.
This is Dontie S. Mitchell, better known as Mfalme Sikivu, reporting to you from Great Meadows Correctional Facility in Comstock, NY. Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @freeDontieMitchell.
These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.