Ray Tensing (caucasian) a former University of Cincinnati officer, killed a Cincinnati (non-student) unarmed African American man outside of campus limits. After several years it was found he was wearing a confederate t-shirt under his police uniform when he killed the unarmed African American father. He was awarded nearly $350,000 in compensation for unfair dismissal from the University of Cincinnati.
Two weeks prior I was stalked at the University of Cincinnati by a member of our police force:
On Saturday, June 25th I came to the college with my cousin. We had planned to take the bus downtown from campus and explore the city. Arriving, we proceeded to my office to print the bus schedule. Like always, the printer jammed. Pulling papers from the copier, an unfamiliar officer entered from the back door. Walking past my office, where my cousin was waiting, he approached. “I need to make some copies.” I let him know that the printer was jammed and it might be faster if he used the one 10 meters from me. Asking for the code, I yelled back 12345.
After making his copies he returned and remarked that I should inform the about the jammed copier. Thinking our Dean had more important things to worry about than a busted copier, I said nothing and he left.
We had extra time before the next bus, so I suggested we tour the campus. As soon as we exited the building, we saw the policeman again. He was on his bike, I assume making scheduled security rounds of campus. We crossed the courtyard and walked towards another building. He passed us on his bike as we proceeded. In Walters, I showed my cousin the classrooms. Moving from room to room we made our way to the dental clinic. On our way back, he stopped us in the hall blocking the hallway with his bike He said he needed to ID us because we “didn’t look right.” He clarified, “you looked suspicious.” I explained that this was my place of employment and he had seen me not even a half-hour earlier in my office. Again, “we didn’t look right.” He felt “we were up to something.”
Luckily I had my UC ID and presented it to him. I explained that my cousin was from Kiribati and that he did not have a UC ID, as he was my guest visiting my place of employment. I explained that we were exploring my place of employment while waiting for the #4 bus, we were not trying to do anything else. After a few minutes of further discussion, trying to convince him that I did work at UC he returned my ID and let us go.
I filed a complaint on behalf of all minority faculty, and staff who “don’t look right” or who “look suspicious” and are mistreated at their place of employment, ultimately damaging our vibrant learning community Who knows what would have happened if I didn’t have my ID?
Weeks later, a member of the same police force followed and ultimately killed a man who did not have his proper ID. While I do respect the officers, I, a well-educated member of society, also fear them. It has happened at UC before.
In the end, the offending officer in my case was told: “not to do it again.” Two years later, we got a new copier.
We, as a society, have enabled the infiltration of our blue. And, hell yes! Not all police are bad, we need you and we thank you! Some of my most trusted friends, amazing people, happen to be cops. But, we have turned a blind eye towards the infiltration, until now.
Don’t we always say that? The violence stops now. The climate crisis stops now. The hunger stops now. The pandemic stops, soon? We hope.
Well, that’s what we have been living through as a society for centuries, a pandemic, and will continue living through it until we can take no more. Just like the planet. Do you notice the unprecedented storms, rainfall, droughts, king tides, temperature spikes over the past 20+ years, I could go on and on (sorry climate activist at heart here).
As I watch the protests from afar, with the second wave of COVID 19 on my mind, I can do nothing more than become a keyboard warrior and share how I am feeling about the colonial legacy we have somehow become numb to, yet recognize at the drop of a hat. Where a symbol, rooted in colonial past, can be carried to reinforce outdated structuralism and Durkheimen social fact that seems to, without fail, relinquish all we hope for in this world. Well, that’s the way it is.
Or is it?