Indianapolis police officers have a message for the criminals and thugs of their city: This out-of-control violence has no place in our town. We will get out of our cars and confront you, whether you like it or not.
On July 5, 25-year-old African-American Major Davis Jr. allegedly shot and killed Indianapolis police officer Perry Renn. Davis' family essentially blamed Renn for the violence, telling a local TV station that the officer should have stayed in his car, because he could see that Davis was armed.
Several officers in the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department responded by starting a social media campaign to affirm their commitment to stand up to dangerous criminals. In a series of short Facebook videos, officers can be seen declaring that they will always get out of their cars.
Indianapolis is hardly the only place where African-Americans display open hostility toward the police. The Davis shooting, and his family's subsequent comments, reflect a nationwide trend, according to Colin Flaherty, the author of "'White Girl Bleed A Lot': The Return of Racial Violence to America and How the Media Ignore It."
"It's an example of what's happening all over the country," said Flaherty, who has written extensively on the subject. "The hostility, the antipathy toward cops in black communities is palpable, it's evident, you see it every day, any cop will tell you it's true, there are songs about it."
Rev. Charles Harrison, one of the leaders of the 10 Point Coalition in Indianapolis, which works to discourage individuals in the black community from retaliating in violence after a crime has been committed, told the Indianapolis Star: "This generation of young people does not have any respect for authority in general, and are much more willing to be confrontational with the police."
Harrison outlined ways to stop the violence in Indianapolis, including "increased efforts among black leaders to build stronger ties between the community and police."
The aim is to "establish some level of respect for law enforcement," Harrison said.
Flaherty spoke about two incidents that happened six months ago in Wilmington, Delaware. While the police were administering first aid to a man who had just been shot, a large crowd of black people began to throw rocks and bottles at the officers. A city councilwoman told Flaherty the crowd was upset with the level of crime in their neighborhood. But Flaherty didn't buy that explanation.
Black mobs routinely terrorize cities across the country, but the media and government are silent. Read the detailed account of rampant racial crime in "White Girl Bleed A Lot: The Return of Racial Violence to America and How the Media Ignore It."
"No, they're unhappy that the cops are there to do something about it," he said. "We now have cities all over this country where the thugs are more popular than the cops. People like the thugs, they like the criminals. They're heroes. The cops are the villains."
Shortly after that, another officer was shot by a black person in a Wilmington neighborhood, and dozens of police cars arrived at the scene. Bystanders claimed on a local cable channel that the police were overreacting to the officer being shot. The next night, some members of the Wilmington city council also complained that the officers had overreacted to one of their own men being shot.
"So the cops are operating in this incredibly hostile atmosphere. A lot of hatred directed at them among black people, and I don't see how that's going to end well," Flaherty said.
Flaherty mentioned a conversation he had with a Chicago police officer. The officer said when he pulls up to a group of black people, there is almost always somebody singing N.W.A's 1988 gangsta rap hit "F--- tha Police."
Indianapolis, for its part, has had 87 reported homicides this year, according to a Fox affiliate. In the wake of the Davis shooting, some members of the black community acknowledged the need to get tougher on crime and violence. Writing in the Indianapolis Recorder, Abdul-Hakim Shabazz urged fellow blacks to cooperate with police. But blaming the cops is still fashionable in the city.
Shabazz wrote, "I do think the black community needs to be more aggressive with crime and violence.
"For example, instead of making excuses for criminals and socially unacceptable behavior, it's time to start putting the smack down on some folks. Instead of looking at curfews as a way to harass black youth, look at it as a way to keep them off the streets. Instead of looking at tougher sentences as a way to incarcerate black men in the 'prison-industrial complex,' view it as getting violent criminals off the street.
"One way to do that is to cooperate with law enforcement. There is something wrong when a person is shot in front of 20 people and no one saw anything when the cops show up."
A few years ago, according to Flaherty, Indianapolis replaced its white police chief with a black chief, believing it would solve the problem of black-related crime. But it didn't work.
"So they got a black police chief, and crime's gotten a lot worse, and people are a lot less willing to talk about it," Flaherty said.
Flaherty is proud of the Indianapolis police officers for launching their "get out of the car" campaign. He said it's one way for them to deal with the hostility that has sometimes prevented them from doing their jobs.
"Finally, it's the cops standing up and saying, listen, we're not the problem; we're the solution, and we're kinda pissed about everybody blaming us," Flaherty said. "So we're gonna get out of the car, we're not gonna be put off, we're gonna solve this crime, so good for them."
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See a trailer for "White Girl Bleed a Lot":