In Tennessee, a white law enforcement officer received an unbelievably light punishment after he admitted to calling his Black coworker the n-word twice in one shift.
On Tuesday, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported that an internal affairs investigation conducted by the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office found that Sgt. George Jackson used the racial slur while speaking to another officer.
The paper obtained records which show that the incident took place on November 14, 2016 (just days after the election) while Jackson was entering the jail with Deputy Jessica White. While walking into the facility, White inform Jackson about her concern after she witnessed his vehicle swerving while driving to work. Jackson replied that he maintained car insurance “just in case a n*gger” like her without insurance hit his vehicle.
Following the incident, White said that she walked into the jail’s central control room to inquire about filing a grievance. However, Jackson came into the chamber while she was getting information on the process. Documents show that Jackson once again said the n-word in White’s presence. There is also video, which allegedly shows other officers in the room laughing at the remark.
Jackson, of course, insists that the comment was made as a joke and that he meant no racial malice toward White. Sheriff Jim Hammond decided to make an example of Jackson and gave him a three-day unpaid vacation to think about his behavior.
“‘They’d been partnering up for a long time and had pushed the limits — both of them — in terms of how they respected each other,’ Hammond explained. ‘He carried it to a point where she got offended, so we had to discipline him… It’s not appropriate and I won’t allow it to go on, that’s why I took the steps I did, but it did not raise to the level where I would do anything more severe on the first time.'”
Ash-lee Henderson, a Concerned Citizens for Justice organizer, told the Times Free Press that the suspension was an unacceptable light punishment for such a serious offense.
“‘If police officers and correction officers would talk to fellow deputies like this, how would they talk to community members?’ she said. ‘It’s egregious that this situation happened, and we think it is a miscarriage of justice for him to get three days unpaid. There needs to be some actual change in the policies and procedures that allow this type of culture to exist in the corrections department.'”
“‘There is no time in our history when white folks have used that word without it being demeaning,’ she added. “Folks with privilege and power have used that word to talk about the intellectual inferiority of black people, to set them apart as an inferior class — there is no way to twist it and say, ‘Oh ha ha it was a joke.’ Especially in the context in which it was said. It was, ‘Black people are inferior to us because they don’t get insurance, and that is why I have to have insurance.’”
The earliest foundation of America’s law enforcement community was literally built on racism. The first slave patrol was formed in the colony of Carolina in 1704. Their job was to catch runaway African slaves and return them to their owners. Since that time, the relationship between the police and the Black community has always been one of distrust and oppression. Following slavery, many laws, known as “black codes,” were passed to restrict the freedoms of former slaves, even to the effect of arresting them for not being employed. After they had been arrested, they were forced to work in prison camps, doing the same jobs they used to do as slaves for the same land owners who may have once owned them.
Throughout the “Jim Crow” era, police were often used as tools to enforce discriminatory laws which were not only designed to separate the two races physically, but also to award whites with better treatment under the law.
According to John Ehrlichman, a former domestic policy adviser to former President Richard Nixon, the “War on Drugs” initiative was started by the disgraced Republican president to hurt the anti-Vietnam war movement and the Black community. In an article published in Harper’s Magazine, Ehrlichman said:
“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people.”
“You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities,” Ehrlichman said. “We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
As a result, the prison population in the U.S. exploded as more Blacks were arrested and given lengthier prison sentences than the white counterparts for the same drug-related crimes. To this day, the majority of the law enforcement community refuses even to acknowledge that there are any racial disparities within the criminal justice system. They continue the long tradition of demonizing Blacks by citing circular reasoning and slanted statistics to infer that the Black Communities they target are systemically morally inferior. Despite the fact that drug use is about the same percentage wise between Whites and Blacks, Black neighborhoods are policed more heavily, and Black citizens are more likely to be suspected of drug crimes.
They focus almost exclusively on investigating drug activity in Black communities and use the results to justify their unbalanced persecution. Meanwhile, drug activity in White communities has exploded, leading to an epidemic of overdoses. Before the outbreak of white overdoses, Black drug users were treated as criminals, and in most cases still are. However, now there are more calls from outside and within the law enforcement community to treat drug addiction as a “medical issue,” in which rehabilitation should be the main focus instead of incarceration.
Officer Jackson’s punishment is one of the best examples of how blue and white privilege continues to destroy the public’s trust in law enforcement. Had Jackson worked for must about any private industry, especially a publicly traded company, he would have been fired without delay. However, it appears that his badge and, perhaps, his skin color affords him better treatment than most Americans would receive in that situation. And, with four years of President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval office, don’t expect things to change for the better.
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