There seems to be this misplaced belief among Black capitalists that a certain level of success and money will protect you from the racist horrors America was built on (See: Ice Cube, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, any nigga who made a little coin and thought it was a golden ticket to whiteness).
Nearly three years ago, that myth was quickly dispelled when body camera footage showed Milwaukee Bucks player Sterling Brown being tased for no reason by the police.
CBS News reports that Brown has reached a settlement with the city of Milwaukee for $750,000. The city previously tried to reach a settlement for $450,000 in September 2019, but Brown declined. Brown’s attorney explained the decision at the time, saying that any settlement would have to include an admission of wrongdoing by the city.
In 2018, Brown was approached by a Milwaukee police officer after double parking in two handicapped spots at a Walgreens. What should’ve been a parking ticket at most, turned horrific as Brown was beaten and tased by a group of cops. He was arrested and taken to jail but wasn’t charged for any crime. He then sued the city, alleging that the officers used excessive force during his arrest.
The new settlement requires the city to admit they violated Brown’s constitutional rights and commit to implementing reforms in the police department. In July, Brown wrote an essay in the Players Tribune explaining why he refused the initial settlement.
From the Players Tribune:
They still do what they want and fear no repercussions.
That was why I rejected the settlement offer from the city of Milwaukee last year. I want more than just money. I want cops to show respect and to be held accountable when they step out of line, especially in the neighborhoods they are supposed to serve and protect every day. If they kill a man, I want them to receive the same punishment that another guy on the street would.
My dad was a police officer. We didn’t have a smooth relationship partly because of that. But I had respect for him and other men in the neighborhood who were cops because of what they did when they put the uniforms down. They helped out in the communities by running basketball, football, and mentoring programs for the youth. I don’t respect the badge and uniform they wear because of where it stems from, what it stands for, and its abuse of power.
Brown signed the settlement on Friday afternoon, which is still waiting for approval from the city council. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, should the settlement be approved, this would be the first time the city has admitted wrongdoing in a case of police misconduct. Over the last five years, the Sentinel estimates that police misconduct has cost Milwaukee taxpayers approximately $31.6 million in settlements.
It’s sad it took Sterling Brown having to fight for nearly three years to get the city to commit to changes. Even if legislators have no moral center, the fact that police settlements have stretched Milwaukee’s budget so thin that they’ve had to borrow money to cover them should have been enough to motivate substantial reforms.
Brown was one of the key figures behind the Milwaukee Bucks decision to boycott one of their playoff games in August, following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin. The Bucks released a statement celebrating Brown’s settlement saying, “We commend Sterling for his courageous response to this terrible situation.”
“No one should ever have to go through the horrifying abuse and injustice that Sterling experienced,” The organization added.