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Alton Sterling: When Did Protect And Serve Become Seek And Kill?

My message today is in regards to the senseless murder of Alton Sterling, while I will not recount what he went through in the last moments of his life I will touch on a subject matter that many are afraid to speak upon. I am known mostly for my sports articles but there are times when I feel the need to let my emotions do the typing, tonight was one of those rare occasions.

I was born in the ’70’s, raised in the ’80’s where we could play outside and your biggest fear was being called out in front of your friends by your mother for staying out past your curfew. My childhood wasn’t perfect, my parents weren’t perfect and my neighborhood wasn’t the best but we had each others back. There was a cop that lived in the neighborhood that would walk his beat, speak to us and sometimes throw the football around with us, hell we were kids and us being young we did not understand that he was our second dad. His job was to protect us from any harm that may have come our way. Never in a million years would I thought, or he for that matter that we would grow up needing protection from the same uniform that he proudly wore.

There was another senseless killing in America, yes an African-American male, not at the hands of a rival gang member, an attempted robbery or home intruder but by the people who WE actually pay their salary. Let that sink in for a moment. We work hard everyday only to put a hit out on ourselves by people who feel as if we are a threat, not only to them but society as a whole. Is this about race, let me think for a minute, you damn right it is.

I’ve never labeled myself or been labeled as a racist in my life as my heart will not allow that type of hate to seep in but I can’t speak for any other human on this earth but I’ll be damned if I can’t see a trend here. I may lose some friends over this and if that’s the case then so be it but what type of man would I be if I didn’t speak my mind on behalf of the ones that can’t, the ones that are afraid and most importantly, my two African-American sons that are too young to understand that dialing 911 for assistance may cause them their life.

This is America, Home of the Free, Land of the Brave, but for whom?

I was raised in poverty, but I was taught to show respect, respect to my elders and ones that are here to protect and serve me. Those that know me, know that I’ve had my run ins with the police on many occasions but I am still here to talk about it unlike countless others. This year alone there has been a reported 588 deaths by the hands or guns of police officers. At this rate I feel safer wearing blue in a bloods territory then standing next to an officer of the law.

How did we come to this?

That’s the million dollar question. When an incident like this happens the Chief of Police gets in front of the camera and microphone and says it’s due to poor training. Some may actually buy that lame ass excuse but what the hell does training have to do with murder? Is that cop not human? And if its poor training then what really worries me then is what are you training them to do? It’s not the training, it’s piss poor decision-making and a lack of respect for human life.

As  black males we have a target on our backs, always have, dating back to the slave days. If a cop approaches either a group or an individual, who is more afraid? The media will paint a picture that it’s the officer but he/she is the one holding a gun, bulletproof vest, nightstick, mace, handcuffs and 9 times out of 10 they are partnered up, not to mention they have TRAINING, but yet THEY are the ones fearing for their life. If we run then its open season, resisting arrest is what they call it, but call it what it really is, protecting our own life. Yes that may sound strange to some but until you have been in that situation please don’t judge. If we don’t run and stand our ground that may come off as cocky and instigate a standoff which may lead to, well…

What do I tell my kids? Do I tell them not to respect the law, run free doing whatever you want? I can’t. At my age I know how the system works, I understand that WE are the enemy, the prey and they are the hunters. I also know that it’s not every cop that’s the problem, just as every black male is not a threat.

You want us to respect your badge but is it asking too much for you to respect the color of our skin and our life? We have families to go home to just like you do. We have jobs, breathe the same air, bleed, cry and laugh the same as you do, but what you must understand is that we have the same right to fight for our life just as much as you think you have the right to take ours.

Growing up I use to think that Protect and Serve actually meant something, now it’s just a slogan on the getaway car.


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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com