Because of combined crises and the uprisings, the veil of the dominant narrative has been pulled back for all to see. No longer are people able to pretend that the way of the world is safe for everyone, or that everyone has the same opportunities with the mindset that has been rampant since the country’s inception. More people are aware that harm has been done to the Black people of the United States, compounded by the reality that no African migrants from the colonial era chose to be here, and were given no resources upon emancipation. Reparations has finally evolved from what was considered madness to a serious consideration, and too many people have jumped on the bandwagon of “How are we going to pay for it”? The final charging of Amy Cooper for a false police report has made it clear: at least partially, reparations can be paid through the convictions of people responsible for inciting police violence against those which are considered a threat.
A reparations account paid through police brutality accomplishes a number of different tasks, not least of which would be police departments conceding their role in being used as a tool to scare Black people. Most file systems have gone online, making it easy to find those filed reports for no apparent reason. Archivists, meaning historians and librarians, could get jobs working with police departments for all the hardcopy files that have not been scanned or were destroyed with minimal records. The only reason why people have been able to establish parameters for justice is because extensive research has already been completed of the harm done. Police departments and their ilk have hidden behind the veil of security for long enough; if their true purpose is justice, then they, too, will participate in revealing those who use others for violent entertainment.
Moreover, police departments may finally act as deterrents for those who harass Black and brown people for the mere crime of existing where other people did not want them. Historically, police were used to capture runaway slaves, just as jails were used to hide the slaves after “emancipation.” Essentially, because people were trained to see Black and brown people as servants under the control of the dominant narrative, there are too many who still see them as property to be controlled. Demanding compliance from Black and brown people is a sign of insecurity, and if police departments are to continue to exist (which is also under debate), they need to stop being used as tools to assuage people’s insecurities.
Finally, charging and convicting people of filing false reports would offer an opportunity for restitution for those harmed and killed by the weaponizing of police departments. The family of Emmett Till deserves to have justice for the lie that Carolyn Bryant Donham told for her own amusement, and families throughout the nations history deserve to see that the nation cared enough to hold people accountable. The store owners who shot Latasha Harlins and called the police on George Floyd deserve to pay a penance for failing to see Black people as humans. If police departments want to prove themselves useful, they must provide a reason for their existence other than undue harassment. Black and brown communities have been under attack for no reason, and if people are interested in doing the right thing by harmed communities, they need to put their money where their mouths are.
Photo credit by Benjamin Morawek – Reparations & Looting