By now, the storyline is as predictable as it is enraging: a black "suspicious" civilian somewhere in the U.S is stopped by a police officer, who is most likely non-black. At some point between the actual stop and arrest, the alleged suspect is said to have moved, spoke or looked at an officer in a threatening way.. The officer, in turn, retaliates to protect himself. Every so often, several officers, who are most likely white, subdue, choke, bash, or kill the perceived threat. Sometimes the act is captured on a video that is released months later. And on some occasions, a video is still not enough proof to bring about justice on behalf of the victims, whether they left the scene alive or in a body bag. Ask Eric Garner's or Jonathan Crawford's families.
You know the story. You might also be all too familiar with the many black and brown people lucky enough to share their testimonies and recall the names of those now memorialized as trending hashtags.
And, yet, another story recently emerged bringing more public attention to the astonishing regularity of blue on black violence.
Police officers in Inkster, Michigan, viscously choked, hit 16 times in the head, and tasered 57-year old Floyd Dent after pulling him out of his car during a traffic stop in January. He survived. And the brutal beating was captured by the patrol car camera. The video was released Wednesday night.
The fact that Dent cried while recalling the beating, signaling his distress and humiliation, should not be the reason video viewers feel empathy for him because his tears may not have mattered if the video did not surface to prove he was victimized.
What should matter are black lives and the facts. The truth is: One of the officers, William Melendez, also known as 'Robocop', has a history of breaking the very laws he has sworn to protect. He and nine other colleagues were charged with numerous assaults and falsifying records. But they were acquitted. Dent has never broken a law. So, who will protect Dent and other victims?
People are angry, and rightly so, as a result of the video surfacing. In fact, protests and calls for the firing of the two police officers beating Dent in the video, were immediate. Protests are now necessary and routine reactions to the more insidious and longstanding problem of police brutality, but they alone are not the only solution.
The disproportionate rates of excessive force in the lives of black people is an American problem. And it is a problem that will require the participation of every American if it is to be fixed.
The #FloydDent hashtag trending on Twitter reaffirms as much.
Shit has to change or else we will continue to discuss and bear witness to this predictable violence while people are brutalized and even killed under our watch.