Jul 01, 2017 08:30AM
By Jason Huddle
The shooting death of Trayvon Martin in 2012 and the subsequent acquittal of George Zimmerman in 2013 was the catalyst for the formation of Black Lives Matter (BLM).
Then came the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and Eric Garner in New York City. Originally a hashtag on social media, the now international, chapter-based BLM took to the streets as a response to these killings and other African-American victims of violence.
The organization typically “engages in direct action tactics that make people uncomfortable enough that they must address the issue,” according to Wikipedia.org. “BLM has been known to build power through protest and rallies.”
Founders Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi – all African-American women – met each other through Black Organizing for Leadership & Dignity (BOLD), which trains community organizers. On their website, blacklivesmatter.com, they have identified 13 “guiding principles” as the foundation for those who are considering joining their movement.
We quote: “Diversity, Globalism, Loving Engagement, Empathy, Unapologetically Black, Black Women, Collective Value, Black Villages, Restorative Justice, Queer Affirming, Transgender Affirming, Black Families and Intergenerational.
Then, in 2015, former Charleston, SC, police officer, Michael Slager, shot Walter Scott – African-American – in the back as he was running away from a traffic stop. That was followed by Baton-Rouge, St. Paul, Dallas…police and civilian lives lost. It paints a muddy – and bloody – picture of the state of the nation.
Gun control issues, racial profiling, black-on-black crime, religious intolerance – they’re among the determinants for the violence we’re seeing in the U.S. as well.
But what is it like for an African-American family living in Cabarrus County today, a family with law enforcement background? Cabarrus Magazine reached out to the Davis family; the following is only edited for sentence structure.
CM: Tell us a little about yourself and your family.
Mrs. Davis: My name is Daphne D. Davis and I’m 52 years of age. I am employed with the Cornelius Police Department. I am married to retired Kannapolis Police Lt. Milton D. Davis. We have one son, Justin, who will be a senior in the fall at Northwest Cabarrus High School. We have made our home in Concord and are members of New Hope Worship Center.
CM: The fact that you work for the Cornelius Police Department gives you an interesting perspective, so what is your opinion concerning the national trend of police violence toward American citizens, especially African-Americans?
Mrs. Davis: My perspective is, it is sad and scary all at the same time. No one should be treated the way I’ve seen some blacks treated in recent news. At one point, it was as if it was open season on all people of color. Every time the news came on it was about another person (black) being shot by the police.
Of course, working at the Cornelius Police Department does give me better insight on law enforcement. I’ve been in and around law enforcement for the last 23 years. I’ve seen some good police officers and some bad police officers. Just as there are good people that do the right thing, you have bad people that do the wrong thing – period.
My husband and I always talk about how some people are meant to be the police and some people are meant to call the police. This job is not for every person. Over the years I’ve seen a lot of officers come into this field for all the wrong reasons. They are the ones that cause you to have pause.
CM: Does the media offer an accurate portrayal?
Mrs. Davis: The media does not offer an accurate portrayal of what is happening. The news media is oftentimes trying to be the first one to get dibs on a breaking news story when they don’t have all the facts in place. This causes alarm in a community and now you have citizens running all over the place on bits and pieces of a story they’ve heard from a breaking news piece. In many cases this causes strife and discord amongst citizens. Truth in reporting has, in many cases, taken a turn to who is first and how much a story can be sensationalized.
CM: How does social media play a role (cell phone videos, Facebook Live, etc.)?
Mrs. Davis: Social media can be a great tool if it is utilized properly. There are so many looking for a quick buck or their 15 minutes of fame. This, in many cases, causes the facts to be distorted. The other part of this is that people are impatient and want to know what happened rather than the facts of the matter.
CM: How have recent occurrences making the national news impacted your son?
Mrs. Davis: We find ourselves answering more and more of his questions of why is this or that happening. He made a statement once that he’s almost scared sometimes to go out for fear of something happening. However, we have told him that God has not given you a spirit of fear. We tell him often, if you do what’s right, that’s all that matters.
CM: Do you find yourself having to alter the way you parent/respond to incidents that your child sees on TV?
Mrs. Davis: Yes. He’s seen news stories where the person was doing what he was told by the officer and still ended up getting shot or beat up. So, his question then is, what is he supposed to do in that case. We have given him scenarios of ‘what-ifs’ for just about any given situation.
Milton is a BLET (Basic Law Enforcement Training) instructor at RCCC (Rowan Cabarrus Community College), so we have done several roleplay scenarios. It’s sad that you must roleplay with your child about meeting people of authority. Whatever happened to the conversations of this is respect and the fact that respect must be shown to be received? Where are normal conversations about life and the direction(s) one must take to be successful? Just the general around-the-table conversation of how was your day and what did you learn or discover?
CM: With regard to Cabarrus County’s police force, how do you feel if pulled over during a traffic stop?
Mrs. Davis: Just the fact of blue lights behind me intimidates me to a certain point. That’s not just for Cabarrus County. Any law enforcement that I’ve ever encountered on a traffic stop intimidates me to a certain point. Not that I’ve been stopped a lot of times. But when I have been stopped and I see those blue lights, my mind begins to wander to what I’ve done. You ponder if this is going to be a good stop or a bad stop. I immediately start thinking, what did I do wrong? Do I fit the description of someone they are looking for? Does my car fit the description of one they may be looking for? I tell myself, keep my hands on the wheel and don’t make any sudden, quick moves.
CM: Do you agree that all police officers should wear body cameras?
Mrs. Davis: I feel that all police officers should wear body cameras. Body cameras can tell a story when there are no other witnesses.
CM: What changes, if any, can the police force make to build positive police-citizen relations?
Mrs. Davis: There needs to be more police-to-citizen meetings or seminars of learning the why of a police officer. Explain to the citizens about certain policy and procedures that must be followed during certain crimes or arrests or traffic stops. A better-educated community gives way for less issues when encounters do occur.
Officers should park their police vehicles and walk their beats and get to know the people in the community. There was a big push for community-oriented policing in the late 1990s and early 2000s. That push is going away. You do see some officers taking it upon themselves to keep this kind of policing alive by interacting with communities and not making this an us-against-them situation.
This is a perfect time to interact with the community and build better relationships with one another.
Article By: Kim Cassell
Photo: Jason Huddle