Black cops have been reporting racism with the Capitol Police Department for years

U.S. Capitol Police Department car (Wikimedia Commons)

When videos started to surface of White Capitol police officers assisting the MAGA rioters during the January 6 insurrection, people were shocked.

“Aren’t they supposed to be on our side?” people asked. This lackadaisical approach to policing while guarding the Capitol (and the selfie-taking of officers with MAGA supporters) exposed to the world a nasty secret that African-American cops have been witnessing first hand for years. Scratch that. What police officers have been sounding the alarm about for years, but like most cries about the bigoted nature of law enforcement as a whole, these cries have been largely ignored.

On January 6th, the siege of the U.S. Capitol building changed that for the nation.

The lack of security on that historic day and the department-wide slow down documented on social media by the “patriots,” shined the spotlight on racism within the force. Similar to the George Floyd murder, people needed proof that extreme white supremacy (and blue race-based bias) existed.

Black & Blue: Racism isn’t new!

According to an exposé in Pro Publica, the former chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, Kim Dine, didn’t know just how bad it was in Washington D.C. until he was in leadership.

After reading through stacks of complaints dating back decades, he concluded, “There is a problem with racism in this country, in pretty much every establishment that exists.”

“You can always do more in retrospect.”

Now that the attention is on Chocolate City, take a listen below to accounts of Black officers that experienced various forms of discrimination while wearing the badge.

Just look at The Force

Washington D.C. is affectionately called “Chocolate City.”  Blacks make up 46% of the population. 52% of police in the Washington Metropolitan Department are Black. DC’s police force could serve as a model for the rest of the nation.

As a society, we do need to ask why the Capitol Police is only 29% Black (and has an even smaller number of POC officers as a whole) when the nation’s capital itself is so diverse…

Retired Lt. Sharon Blackmon-Malloy, Capitol Officer

Blackmon-Malloy has been a bullhorn for fighting against racism in the department throughout her 25-year law enforcement career.

So much so, she first filed a 2001 discrimination lawsuit against the department. Twenty years later, the case is still pending. So, she wasn’t surprised that her former colleagues participated in the pro-Trump riot.

“Nothing ever really was resolved. Congress turned a blind eye to racism on the Hill.”

“Nothing was ever really resolved. Congress turned a blind eye to racism on the Hill,” recounted Blackmon-Malloy who is now the vice president of the U.S. Capitol Black Police Association has said of her experience. “We got Jan. 6 because no one took us seriously.”

Screenshot of the lawsuit, Blackmon-Mally vs. U.S. Capitol Police BD.

Retired Lt. Frank Adams

Adams, like Blackmon-Malloy, sued the department in 2001. He again went down the same legal route filing another racial discrimination case in 2012.

He tells a story of institutional racism embedded in street policing policies. One such racist trope was the “meet and greet.” At their discretion, the police officers could stop a Black person at will for no reason. This practice was a clear case of profiling in plain sight without any regard for an individual’s freedom.

He further spoke about finding an illustration of a Black man “ascending to heaven only to be greeted by a Ku Klux Klan wizard” on someone’s desk at the precinct. When he reported it to his higher-ups, they didn’t listen to him. Well, according to Blackmon-Malloy, they sort of did. They listened enough to retaliate against him by punishing him and preventing him from getting a promotion. He was also ostracized by other officers in the department.

D.C. is technically in the South and the Klan has made its presence known in the city before. Now, they don’t hide behind hoods, they wear badges, suits, congressional pins, and weird animal skins with face paint.

Ku Klux Klan Rally,” Histories of the National Mall, accessed January 15, 2021, http://mallhistory.org/items/show/175.

“They only become involved in oversight when it’s in the news cycle,” Adams fumed. “They ignored the racism happening in the department. They ignored the hate.”

Acting Chief of U.S. Capitol Police Yogananda Pittman

Ironically, after both Blackmon-Malloy and Adam filed their discrimination lawsuits, Yogananda Pittman joined the Capitol Police force. She has seen it all and stays despite the racism. On January 8, Chief Steven Sund resigned, and she was offered a  job to lead the nation’s most heralded force.

Unfortunately, she can’t celebrate how amazing the appointment is quite yet (after all she is the first African American and the first woman to head the law enforcement agency in its 193-year history). Instead, they tapped her, like they do all other powerful great women, to come in and clean up the mess.

Black Cop

Black police officers are placed in an almost impossible position within their community and at their respective precincts.

Their own people look at them (mostly) as overseers that love to side with an institution that exploits their authority over minority communities for no other reason than that they can. KRS One, one of the most revered voices in Hip-Hop, unpacks the psychosis that sometimes follows Black cops when they get the badge and baton.

And within the force, they are called “monkey,” “coon,” and nooses are hung outside of their lockers.

These stereotypes leave little room for these Blacks that serve and protect. Like Ashanti Smith, an unarmed special police officer, who punched a white Donald Trump supporter for littering the air with slurs and threats.

“It was a large group of protesters coming down, and they were screaming racial slurs and screaming, ‘F Antifa, F Antifa,’” she said. “They didn’t have masks,” she said. “They proceed to try to take my mask off of my face. I was on Instagram live just to protect myself and also show everyone what was going on.”

 

Or let’s consider the story of US Capitol Police (USCP) Officer Eugene Goodman, the hero that diverted the crowd from ransacking an unsecured Senate chamber.

Hopefully, the failed coup attempt exposed the ugliness of not only the United States Capitol Police, but police forces writ large. Any reform of law enforcement must start with a basic purging of those cops, who at their core, still see policing as an institutionalized version of the slave catcher of the 1800s.

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