AFRICANGLOBE – In the aftermath of Darren Wilson’s shooting of Michael Brown several weeks ago, an almost all White police department engaged in a riot against the Black citizens of Ferguson, Missouri.
During those days of civil disturbance, police were recorded using racial slurs, threatening innocent people with violence and death, violating the Constitutional rights of journalists and others who attempted to monitor their street brigandry and hooliganism, and in all, treated the Black community of Ferguson as though they were terrorists and insurgents—with the police conducting a mission of counterinsurgency and mayhem.
The Ferguson police are not ashamed of their horrible behavior.
Darren Wilson has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for his successful bounty and head-hunting campaign against an unarmed Black teenager named Michael Brown.
Anti-Black Homicidal ideation and racism drive Wilson’s supporters; they yearn to participate in a 21st century lynching party by proxy.
Ultimately, Darren Wilson is a protected man, receiving paychecks while the prosecutor and his home police department orchestrate a cover-up of his cowardly killing of Michael Brown.
It would seem that despite overwhelming evidence that Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown in an execution and vigilante style murder, that the latter, young Mr. Michael Brown, will receive no justice by the local authorities.
The police in Ferguson are emboldened by these events.
In fact, as reported by MSNBC and other media outlets, they are apparently so encouraged by a culture which enables, protects, and encourages White supremacist violence by the police and other White identified street vigilantes against Black people in the United States, that some members of the Ferguson police department have begun wearing wristbands which say “I am Darren Wilson”.
The symbolic politics of the “I am Darren Wilson” wristband makes clear what the Black residents of Ferguson—and other communities in the United States—have known for decades and centuries. The police do not “serve and protect” Black communities, specifically, and the working classes and poor, more generally.
As descendants of the slave patrollers of the American slaveocracy, police are on the front lines of maintaining the hierarchies of race, White privilege, and White supremacy in the United States.
The “I am Darren Wilson” wristband evokes the demons of White racial terrorism against Black Americans.
The wristband naturally leads to an existential question: what does it mean for a police officer (or one of their supporters) to say that “I am Darren Wilson”?
Darren Wilson repeatedly shot an unarmed Black teenager who had surrendered to him.
It follows that:
“I am Darren Wilson” means that you idolize a killer.
“I am Darren Wilson” means that you support the killing of unarmed Black people.
“I am Darren Wilson” means that you support White supremacy.
“I am Darren Wilson” means that you are a racial paranoiac so drunk on authoritarianism and racial animus that you can rationalize, in the face of the preponderance of the available evidence, the execution of an unarmed person for the crime of being Black, breathing, and walking down the street.
“I am Darren Wilson” means that your ethics are so twisted and distorted by the White racial frame and White supremacy that you sympathize and empathize more with the White cop who killed an unarmed Black teenager than you do with the person who was shot dead and left in the street for hours like garbage.
“I am Darren Wilson” means that your moral framework has been corrupted and ruined by White privilege and White racism.
The “I am Darren Wilson” wristband is not a minor accouterment or detail that is coincidental to a given police officer’s uniform: it is a major statement of power, politics, attitudes, and values.
The website Police One details the importance of a police officer’s dress and comportment:
The uniform of a police officer conveys the power and authority of the person wearing it. Clothing, including the police uniform, has been found to have a powerful psychological impact on those who view it. When humans contact other humans they subconsciously search for clues about the other person so that they can understand the context of the encounter. The police uniform is a powerful clue as to the wearer’s authority, capabilities, and status.Research has revealed that the uniform has a subconscious psychological influence on people, based on the person’s preconceived feelings about police officers. When a person wears the police uniform, citizens tend to be more cooperative with his or her requests. People also tend to curb their illegal or deviant behaviors when a police uniform is visible in the area.
Research has revealed that alterations to the traditional, paramilitary police uniform can result in changes in perceptions by the public. The style of the clothes, the type of hat worn, the color of the material, and even the condition of the clothes and equipment have an influence on how citizens perceive the officer. For these reasons police administrators need to take their uniform policies seriously. The selection of a uniform style, regulations on the proper wear of the uniform, how well uniforms are maintained, and policies on when officers may wear plain clothes should all be taken very seriously.
The police uniform should be considered an important tool for every patrol officer.
In the context of the over-militarization of America’s police departments, the vicious violence of the police riot against the people of Ferguson, and the overt and covert racial animus that Black folks in Ferguson and elsewhere have experienced at the hands of the police and other elements of the criminal justice system, “I am Darren Wilson” is an announcement that even in the post civil rights era that “we, the police, can, will, and have killed Black people with relative impunity…and will do so again”.
There is continuity to history. It proceeds with fits and starts, progress moving forward in the face and despite the best efforts of reactionaries and conservatives to derail and hold it back. History is also beset by a dualism where the habits of the past coexist with the present and the future.
White supremacy, as one of the most powerful ideologies in recent human history, follows those contours.
A Black man is President of the United States in a moment of continual anti-Black violence by the police and the criminal justice system. There is obvious racial progress in many areas of American life. Yet, the country remains hyper-segregated, the job market still discriminates against Black people and White privilege still over-determines and advantages the life chances of Whites as compared to non-Whites.
The intimidation and violence of the police uniform and the “I am Darren Wilson” wristband is a statement of White racist thuggery and intimidation against both the Black body and the Black community en masse.
The “I am Darren Wilson” wristband has ugly historical precedents: its ancestors include the White Ku Klux Klan uniform and the Nazi Swastika. All three are symbols of White supremacy, terror, and intimidation against Black people and those marked as the Other.
The KKK chose White robes as their uniform in order to intimidate free Blacks by pretending to be the ghosts of dead Confederate soldiers.
The swastika was adopted by the Nazi Party as a way of harassing, threatening, and intimidating Jews (as well as other groups) who were targeted for destruction.
The “I am Darren Wilson” wristband is a claim to the right of preemptive and prejudicial violence by the police against African-Americans: it is a signal that that they too, could on a police officer’s whim, be made into the next Michael Brown.
If there is any doubt that the murder of Michael Brown was influenced by racial animus within a broader cultural, as well as local context of White supremacy—and an utter contempt towards Black people’s lives—a person need only to look at the behavior of the Ferguson police department and Darren Wilson’s defenders and apologists.
The Black residents of Ferguson are treated as less than full members of the polity, forced into a life of “custodial citizenship” by a police and local government which lords over their community.
For the White folks who support Darren Wilson, and the cops who wear “I am Darren Wilson” wristbands, this is the natural order of things–one that they are dedicated to protecting.
By: Chauncey DeVega