‘People were gathering to make sure police don’t kill’ one-legged black man

© RT Screenshot
US police must realize they are peacekeepers, and citizens are not enemy combatants, for the situation with the epidemic of police brutality to change, journalist and anti-police brutality activist Chaedria LaBouvier told RT.

READ MORE: SF police call for backup to ‘deal’ with one-legged suspect was ‘troubling’ – witness

RT: We've only seen some of what happened. You were there - what else did the officers do? Take us through the situation.

Chaedria LaBouvier: I was coming from the Twitter headquarters, not from the building but the location, and you could just see this one black man and this wall of blue forming around him. You just know that this is not good situation; you just know that that’s not what you want to see. So, I started running closer, and you could see how bad this was, and you could see that he had a prosthetic leg. The more he said ‘no’, the more he questioned “why are you doing this? I’m using this for crutches”, the worse that it got in terms of it seemed their determination to assert their force. You saw the police and then the crowds; it was not the crowds and then the police. People were gathering to make sure that they didn’t kill him essentially. 

RT: Fourteen officers turned up. From what you saw, did the disabled man pose any danger? Did it need that many police to respond?

CL: Absolutely not. We were all shocked that there would be this much force, and it would be warranted. You can see in the video that there are more police that come, that arrive. So that means that there was call that someone was placing saying that they need more….There weren’t 14 policemen on the scene, but literally someone made that call, and that’s what’s troubling, and that’s what a problem – [and that was] for one man, and a man that has one leg. 

RT: With more and more cases of police brutality emerging and protests following, why do you think officers aren't acting with more caution when handling such situations?

CL: I think that what we have, and I’m going to be incredibly explicit, is that we have a situation of white supremacy that we are not, as a country, actively talking about and actively addressing. What I mean by white supremacy - it is a very complex thing, and don’t necessarily have to be white to perpetuate or believe in it, although that is mostly and strongly the case. But what you have is an institutional entitlement to black bodies. We see that from slavery, we see that from Jim Crow, we see that through the war on drugs, and we see that with police brutality. When you’re looking at white men, and you’re telling them ‘no’, and you’re telling them that they are not entitled to black bodies, and that has been a part of a privilege that has been constructed in their identity, you’re going to have resistance to that, and that is what we’re seeing.

READ MORE: ‘14 San Francisco cops’ gang up on homeless man ‘armed’ with crutches (VIDEO)

RT: RT spoke to a former Baltimore police officer, who told us that the police are trained in an "us against them" mentality. What is the likelihood of that changing?

CL: It’s going to have to. And what is going to have to happen is that the police are going to have to radicalize themselves and realize that they are peacekeepers in the communities; we are not enemy combatants, they are not going into enemy lines, and the police are going to have to radicalize their culture and their training.

Protestors carry signs during a demonstration by "Black Lives Matter" in Los Angeles, California August 11, 2015. © Phil McCarten

RT: A presidential election is starting to ramp up. Do you think that the authorities in the US, whether it’s presidential candidates, or police chiefs, or local administrations, will be addressing the issue of police violence in any way?

CL: Absolutely. When you’re looking at the black vote - this is the number one issue that the black community is concerned with. There is no way that if you want the black vote, which is incredibly important to the Democratic Party, then you’ve got to be able to get around that. I think that people are also seeing that these police chiefs are elected officials, the DA’s [District Attorneys] are elected officials. So if you want to be re-elected and you are at an area that is very heavily black, you’re going to have to show that you care about this issue, and you care about reforming it.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.