Freedom of Expression, Not Freedom of Oppression.


By Sonya Brown | OPINION | AMN | 10/05/2020, 9:04PM

Freedom of Expression, Not Freedom of Oppression.

The public outrage and clear disdain by some members of the Albion community in response to a protest sign using a swear word in connection with “the police” has, at least, started some important conversations. The language has gotten your attention. I cannot speak for the owner of the sign, but aside from exercising his US Constitutional right of free speech, I believe that is the point, It is harsh; it is unpolite; it is vulgar. It is impossible to ignore.

The true history, origin, and purpose of establishing police departments in this country—slave patrols created to uphold white supremacy–may give a deeper understanding of this historical divide between police officers and communities of color, specifically the Black community. We must dig deep and approach things historically before we can have candid conversations about solutions.

This deeply rooted history may also give context to the “F– the Police” sign. The phrase was made famous by rap group, N.W.A., back in the late 1980s just prior to the beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles. The phrase comes from a place of pain, frustration, and under-representation for over 400 years. Although it’s not language I publicly use myself, I believe the issue of systemic racism and the history of police brutality against Black and Brown bodies is far more offensive and divisive than the actual phrase.

While working to localize the national call for action, it’s been pointed out to me that Albion Department of Public Safety Chief Scott Kipp has been pondering for years over these issues specifically the lack of racial diversity within ADPS. During my tenure as a councilwoman I had conversations with the chief. I am aware of group discussions, one of which included residents and some community leaders. In searching for solutions, inclusion is imperative. It is important not to exclude individuals raising concerns regarding racial inequity. while only including those who have never raised such concerns. Diverse voices and experiences will only enhance the quality of potential solutions.

After many years of pondering and discussing, I am hopeful we will finally move into actionable solutions and policy changes. The discomfort associated with tough conversations has started. I urge you not to get so lost in the language that you miss the point: please do not miss the Opportunity to support equitable progress. The action displayed from the feeling of outrage and disdain by someone refusing to accept police brutality, and murders committed by police officers without legal consequences, and a toxic system that has kneeled on the necks of communities of color for centuries have started some important conversations. That is the point. It is harsh: it is unpolite: it is vulgar. It is impossible to ignore.


Sonya K. Brown