I believe in anger. The Bible says there is a time for anger.” They called me “a teacher, a fomenter of violence.” I would say point blank…I’m not for wanton violence, I’m for justice.

…I believe, it’s a crime for anyone who is being brutalized to continue to accept that brutality without doing anything to defend himself.

-Malcolm X

I fucked up at watched the video of a black mother, Jacqueline Craig, being violently tasered and forcibly arrested in front of her young children, two of whom were also subjected to similar treatment.

I’ve spent the last two years avoiding videos of cops dehumanizing black folks because of the rage I feel while watching them that I have no immediate place to direct. In the video, Craig complains to piece-of-shit-cop-William-Martin of the Fort Worth Police Department that a white-neighbor-piece-of-shit (also on the scene) choked her son because he allegedly littered. Martin’s response was to criticize Craig’s parenting–”Why don’t you teach your son not to litter?”– to which she conservatively replies something along the lines of, “Get the fuck out of here.” No, actually, she responds much more thoughtfully than I imagine many of us would under similar circumstances, and explains the irrelevance of that inquiry and that children don’t always do what they’re told. This incites Martin to taze her, beat her, and pin her to the ground while her children, less than two feet away, look at the scene screaming in fear for their mother’s life. Moments later, two of her children suffer the same fate before being thrown into a police car themselves.

Videos like this, which seem to be released with increasing frequency, remind me that police are savages and prove time and again that the notion of “benevolent law enforcement” is a farce. Whole departments are a much bigger problem than individual cops. To be sure, piece-of-shit-cop-William-Martin came under scrutiny in 2013 for tasering two black boys at a high school in Fort Worth who presented no threat to his safety, yet he’s still on the streets empowered by the state to attack black folks (because we know he’s not doing this kind of thing to a white mother or white teenage girls). This POS felt so confident in his security that he actually recorded himself rabidly attacking this family and taking away video evidence, traumatizing Craig’s other children who watched their sisters and mother be victimized by the state. That’s not the behavior of a rogue cop (whatever that is); these are the actions of someone participating in something that is normalized, routine, and comfortable. Aside from the endless instances of recorded terror, countless police departments in the past several years have: come under scrutiny for having KKK members in their ranks, for referring to Blacks and Latinxs as “target practice” or bragging about terrorizing their neighborhoods and killing its residents.

In nearly all of the cases of police terror, no juries are willing to convict these cops. In fact, several remain kept on paid leave while others have been able to raise enough funds through private donations to retire. Prosecutors willing to disrupt the culture of police terror who pursue justice for Black victims are now vulnerable to legal persecution as a deterrent. Trump’s administration has made it very clear that he intends to support and enhance the violence experienced by communities of color at the hands of law enforcement. This violence isn’t new; however, it became hypervisible under President Obama, and I imagine it will continue as a normalized part of Black American life until something changes. That something, I argue, is communities taking justice into their own hands and protecting themselves against law enforcement.

Ta- Nehisi Coates laid out a very well-researched case for Black folks’ entitlement to reparations for slavery, theft of land, and a host of other injustices.This is not that. My call for neighborhood justice stems most directly from the fact that law enforcement hasn’t given us any reason to believe that it will change its century-long mission of racialized terror and the present political circumstance is likely to embolden police to commit greater acts of violence against black people with less fear of juridical consequence. The justice system certainly hasn’t given us any reason to believe that it will hold police accountable for murdering black people. I’m not sure what other recourse black folks have other than to defend themselves against police violence.

Black folks are living in the most hypersegregated neighborhoods in The U.S. The challenges we face with police in the American Southwest and Southeast are sure to be different than the ones in the metropolitan Midwest and Northeast. Geographical concentration makes it easier for cops to continue their reign of terror. For survival’s sake, it is necessary to organize and develop a system for engagement with law enforcement that draws upon the collective’s strength. In an era when police state violence is so imminent for a people it’s necessary that we reconsider legality as the barometer for right and wrong actions. According to our justice system, it was legal for piece-of-shit-Michael-Slager to shoot Walter Scott in his back as he ran away, it was legal for police to murder Tamir Rice for playing, Eric Garner for selling cigarettes, Sandra Bland for not being kowtow, Rekia Boyd because the prosecution didn’t pursue the most legally specific murder charge. It’s necessary and rational to physically defend ourselves from law enforcement in these times. Organization around defense requires thoughtfulness, planning, and time. It should go without saying but this work can’t be facilitated by the state, their nonprofit arm, or cop sympathizers of any kind. Admittedly, I need education around this kind of resistance. I intend to find that support and I hope others (who aren’t already doing this work) also feel compelled to start the same process.