I write to express my outrage and concern that two Atlanta police officers fired for their abuse of a Morehouse and Spelman student during last year’s period of protest over racial inequality and police abuse of Black citizens have been reinstated. The nation watched as these officers tased and dragged these two students from their car. No evidence has emerged to suggest that the students did anything to provoke these officers other than drive while being Black. The case was so egregious and obvious that then Police Chief Shields immediately dismissed the officers.
It is incomprehensible to me that a system designed to support, but hold accountable, our civil servants appointed to protect and defend us could allow for such a reversal and reinstatement. For those still wondering what allows and reinforces the abusive practices of policing visited upon Black people, you need only study the policies and logic that would legitimize this decision.
Each day I have responsibility for the education and development of 2,200 Black men being prepared to pursue excellence and provide leadership and service to their community. It is disheartening to know that I must also armor them for the reality that our system of justice and civil service is not designed to protect them.
Decisions such as the reinstatement of these officers sends a clear message that a badge places one above the law and shields officers from accountability for their actions. It also makes clear why we must bring about systemic change and not simply continue to act as if police abuse occurs by accident.