If You Love Me, Do Not Call the Police

Photo: Family Photo (Courtesy of Lee Merritt)

I do not want to die.

Because I am far from infallible, I am willing to concede the slight possibility that there exists a scenario in which I may benefit from the presence of the police. Even though I’ve tried to imagine such a situation doesn’t exist, I admit that I may have overlooked some hypothetical plight where cops save my life.

Maybe there are zombies involved and a real-world Rick Grimes rescues me by stabbing the rapidly advancing undead in the head. Or perhaps I will one day feel depressed at a party where the music is provided by a moonlighting deputy sheriff and, unbeknownst to me, a DJ saves my life. However, I’m going to go out on a limb and ask that if you ever think that I am in peril—even if you see me being attacked by animated corpses—there is one thing I beg of you:

Do not call the police.

Ever.

If you think someone might be burglarizing my home, do not call the police. Because they might shoot me like they did 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson. Or 23-year-old Brendon Hester. Or 22-year-old Stephon Clark. My television isn’t worth dying over.

As a black man, there is no imaginable scenario where the presence of law enforcement officers will make me safer. If my car breaks down, send a tow truck. I could wind up being shot and killed like Corey Jones, Jonathan Ferrell or Andrew Thomas. If I have a mental health emergency call a helpline or I might be slaughtered like Charleena Lyles, Quintonio LeGrier or Anthony Hill. If I look like I’m lost, just give me directions, because the police could shoot me like they did Ricky Hayes or taser me to death like they did Eurie Lee Martin. Even if I won’t wake up, slap the shit out of me because cops might decide to use 55 bullets, as they did with Willie McCoy. 

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I’m not insinuating that I am afraid of the police, nor do I mean to imply that I don’t trust cops. I am stating clearly that am afraid of cops because I do not trust them. But it’s not just me. The vast majority of white people in America believe police treat everyone equally and do not use excessive force, while most black people hold the opposite view.

Graphic: Pew Research Center
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Let’s be clear: White people are wrong.

To be fair, it is highly unlikely that I will be shot or killed by a police officer…I think.

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In 2018, there were only 1,575 non-suicide police-related deaths in America according to a joint project by The Root and Fatal Encounters. No one knows how many people were shot, tasered and/or beaten by police officers because law enforcement agencies are not required to compile that information.

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However, when the Stanford Open Policing Project analyzed more than 200 million police stops they discovered that officers are more likely to stop black drivers, are more likely to search black drivers during stops but found that cops aren’t any more likely to find contraband on black drivers than white drivers. A 2018 Bureau of Justice Statistics report found that police are twice as likely to threaten black citizens or use non-lethal force (including shooting, kicking, punching and pushing) against black people during police-initiated contact. Black men are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police use of force. Unarmed black people are two times more likely to be killed by cops and unarmed, fleeing black people are four times more likely than whites to be killed by cops, according to data from Mapping Police Violence.

This proves our distrust is not unfounded. Not only do cops disproportionately kill and brutalize non-white people, but they often obstruct investigations, lie on police reports and destroy evidence. Ninety-nine percent of the police officers who killed unarmed black people since 2015 have not been convicted, although I admit that it’s hard to care about a conviction once you’re dead. They are more likely to shoot or kill me than any segment of the population, according to FBI and U.S. Census data.

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I swear on everything that is good and true, I can handle the zombie apocalypse without the help of the cops. Trust me, I can find my way home, replace my television or fix my car. I can’t get another me. I want to be safe, and, as a black man, the police cannot provide me with safety.

I do not want to die.

Some people will say this position is “anti-cop” but I believe the moniker gets a bad rap. If you love our people and believe black lives matter, then, by definition, you should be anti-cop.

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So, if you are at all concerned about my safety in any way or you ever get the sense that I am in danger, call my mama. Call my cousins. Call Ghostbusters. Call on Jesus. But please, for the love of God...

Do not call the police.

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About the author

Michael Harriot

World-renowned wypipologist. Getter and doer of "it." Never reneged, never will. Last real negus alive.