Tonight, Nashville held another Black Lives Matter peaceful protest in front of the Mayor’s home with frustration on the fact that Officer Lippert had no charges pressed against him after the shooting and death of Jocques Clemmons on February 10. In a recent news report where interviews were released including different snippets from the interviews with Officer Lippert, Lippert and other members of the police force comments on how the Cayce public housing complex in East Nashville is more prone to violent crimes, and therefore has an increased presence in the area.

While this may be statistically accurate, this comment is just another example of how entrenched systemic racism and therefore justification is within our police force. IF the Cayce housing is more prone to violence and therefore there are more police in the area, that is only because we as a society have created a system in which this was encouraged to occur.

From 1934-1962 the government put forth millions in the backing of home loans, but only to Caucasian persons; excluding both African Americans and persons who lived near African Americans. This became known as Red Lining, and its affects are still costing us today, as it served to effectively force African Americans into poor urban centers; which are frequently referred to as “ghettos” and “the hood” today.

Property taxes also were funding (and continue to do so in most areas) schools, which means that if you are in a poor area, aka within the red lines of where money was denied allocation of mortgage opportunities, then the schools in those areas were automatically poorly funded. This affects educational opportunities through lack of funding and support in these neighborhoods (we created) and essentially eradicating the ability to provide a higher education also inhibits the persons attending these low income schools in low income neighborhoods from being able to even get a job in a higher income bracket. This forces many persons of lower socio-economic status and of African American descent into more manual labor jobs in the area. This makes it much harder to gain economic freedom and to be able to escape from the oppressive poverty mentality that already plagues lower income housing and educational areas.

Creating a prison system that is privatized as for profit organizations according to how fast we can fill our prison cells and make that money created an even more oppressive atmosphere. This was exacerbated when the “War on Drugs” became a catch phrase in 1971 with Nixon. He created a fear phenomenon while American soldiers were fighting in Vietnam and becoming addicted to heroin, then it becoming a problem in the United States, and sold marijuana as a hippie issue and heroin as an African American issue.

And yes, he did know what he was doing:

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
John Ehrlichman, to Dan Baum for Harpers Magazine in 1994, about President Nixon’s war on drugs, declared in 1971.

This escalated with laws that Bush, Reagan, and Clinton all created and passed while they served their own terms in the Presidential seat- subjecting one-third of African American men to a form of imprisonment in their lifetime. The sentencing just got more creative throughout the years, expanding to create a further targeting of African American communities by making the sentencing for crack (typically distributed in low income areas) 100x more punitive that the sentencing for cocaine (a more pure form more often sold and consumed in wealthier neighborhoods).

This racial profiling, coupled with the already defined housing, banking, and educational opportunities blockading communities of color in a discriminatory way- provided legal standing for police communities to incorporate racial profiling into their practices. Protecting the police for what Lippert and the police community call “the need for more policing due to the increased violence in these areas” for increased traffic stops ending in unnecessary deaths as they are twice as likely to be pulled over in the first place (just as an example…) Our police forces are also being trained to be more “wary” of these areas and this can result in fear-based training that leaves our officers ill-equipped to be truly non-biased in the way they manage their emotions in the field, which greatly increases the option of police brutality in the first place.

So yes, Lippert, maybe there is an increased violence in the Cayce home district- but if there is, who is really to blame? Because we for damn sure need to stop saying our communities of color.