April 20, 2021 Editor

Compliance Will Not Save Me

Black and brown people’s defiance is not the problem. Our compliance is not the solution.

April 19, 2021

Ibram X. Kendi, Contributing writer at The Atlantic

photo above: Charmaine Edwards (left) speaks to supporters during a protest outside a courthouse in Dallas in 2017. Her stepson, Jordan Edwards, was a 15-year-old in Balch Springs, Texas, when he was shot and killed by police. LM Otero/AP

WN: According to The Washington Post database established to track police killings, the rate at which black Americans are killed by police is more than twice as high as the rate for white Americans1.

See: https://dailysoundandfury.com/im-just-plain-sick-and-tired-of-people-the-selfish-ones-anyway/

Please also see this powerful article by Mary Pezzulo in Steel Magnificat: Everything is Grace: America is Guilty as sin. Near the bottom she writes:

These events–the constant mass shootings, the constant police violence, the police murdering innocent people and especially people of color, and us being no safer for it–they’re not flukes. They’re America. They’re not bugs but features of our culture. We are a racist, violent, murderous culture, a white supremacist culture, a culture obsessed with guns. We are a culture that professes freedom and individualism while idolizing a certain type of bloodthirsty authoritarian as long as he has a uniform and a badge. This is what we choose to be, and then we act surprised at every consequence.

Please try to convince me, the world, that the indictment is not sound. Just try!. . . And we Canadians are in thick with them–“our closest friends.” With such a country as best friend, who needs an enemy?indeed.

The police are going to lie. I’m so thankful that someone from the family was actually on the scene,” [the aunt Hazel] Bryant said. “The police are going to lie. The police are going to cover up for themselves. They don’t care. At this point, I feel like they’re just out to kill Black people. They’re not here to protect and serve. That isn’t happening. That’s been over a long time ago. They’re not here to protect and serve. They’re here to kill Black folks.”

Please also see: Ma’Khia Bryant called for Columbus Police help. They shot her four times, killing her.

Please see as well Joan Walsh‘s: The Chauvin Verdict Has to Be Just the Beginning: The three guilty verdicts are a huge victory—and not enough. In it we read:

There’s no way to extrapolate this verdict to other cases, past, pending, and future. This case had everything a prosecutor needs: multiple video streams and an astonishing chorus of witnesses on the sidewalk outside the now-iconic Cup Foods—young and old, Black and white, a city paramedic and a bright, traumatized 9-year-old—armed with only their phones, trying to reason with Chauvin and the other cops. (Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell called them a “bouquet of humanity.”)

Overmatched defense counsel Eric Nelson tried to paint them as menacing, and failed miserably. In most of what we saw (maybe I missed something) that bouquet of humanity didn’t even move from the curb. They didn’t dare. They knew that if they stepped into the street, they could wind up under the knee of police.

Like George Floyd did.

I know this doesn’t promise us better outcomes, either in conflicts with police or in the prosecution of those who kill. But I’m going to celebrate it. Let us all join the bouquet of humanity.

Please see too Kali Holloway‘s The Backlash to Derek Chauvin’s Conviction Is Already Here. We read:

All this white backlash is pure racial derangement, divorced from the reality that America remains fundamentally unchanged: Black people are still more than three times more likely than white folks to be killed by cops, Chauvin is the first and only police officer to be convicted of killing a Black person in Minnesota’s 163-year history, and just seven cops have been convicted of murder in the roughly 15,000 fatal police shootings since 2005. The anti-protest laws being proposed across the country indicate that plenty of jurisdictions have zero interest in changing policing in any substantive way, and policies like qualified immunity make police prosecution awfully hard in even the most egregious of cases. And copaganda continues to proliferate, with major media outlets still running with police officers’ versions of events—as they did in the Toledo and Floyd cases—although “testilying” has been a known issue for years now.


Compliance will not save our lives. Compliance will not save us from being brutalized and debased like U.S. Army Second Lieutenant Caron Nazario was in Virginia. Even when we are forced into a compliant position—handcuffed and prone and kneed like George Floyd was, incarcerated like Sandra Bland was—we may end up dead.

Black and brown people are told in endless ways by fraternal orders of police and their powerful enablers: Comply and survive. The defense attorney for Chauvin has said this in countless ways during Chauvin’s trial, and will likely say it again during his closing statement today: Floyd would have survived if he had complied.

The violent institution of American slavery—the concentrated patrolling of enslaved bodies on and off plantations—is an ancestor of the violent institution of American policing.

Daunte Wright, if he would have just complied. He was told he was under arrest,” said Brian Peters, the executive director of Minnesota’s largest police union. “He set off a chain of events that unfortunately led to his death.”

After Nazario was hurt during a traffic stop, Windsor Police Chief R. D. Riddle said, “At the end of the day, I’m glad nobody got hurt. That situation ended in the best way it could have. I wish he would have complied a whole lot earlier.”

A piece in Mississippi’s Natchez Democrat over the summer declared: “Don’t defund the police; retrain the people to comply.” In 2019, the Houston Police Officers’ Union circulated the slogan “Comply Don’t Die. Live to Have Your Day in Court.”

That is an old sentiment. A century ago, the Ku Klux Klan and its powerful enablers delivered a similar message to Black and brown people.

But the question is not how many good or bad cops exist today. The questions we should be asking are: What are police officers empowered to do to me by policies and practices? Why are they given military training, weaponry, and near-total impunity? Have racist narratives trained them to fear my dark body?

These questions are not about any individual cop. These questions are not individual. These questions are institutional. The question is whether the institution of American policing is good.

The violent institution of American slavery—the concentrated patrolling of enslaved bodies on and off plantations—is an ancestor of the violent institution of American policing. And like its forebear, American policing is defended as good despite its unmatched amounts of lethal violence.

American police have killed more than 5,000 people since 2015. American police kill civilians at a much higher rate than law-enforcement officers in every other wealthy country do. American police kill 33.5 people out of every 10 million, which is more than three times the second-highest national rate: Canada’s, at 9.8 out of every 10 million. In the United States, Black people are killed by the police at more than twice the rate of white people. Police are the sixth leading cause of death for young Black men, after cancer. More people die in police custody in the United States than in any other wealthy country. That’s 12 deaths for every 100,000 arrests in the U.S., which is more than twice the second-highest national rate: Australia’s, at five deaths per 100,000 arrests. Nearly a quarter of the people killed by police since 2015 had a mental illness. According to a Washington Post database, white Americans accounted for 59 percent of those with a mental illness who were killed, Black Americans 16 percent, and Latino Americans 13 percent.

Please click on: Police Murders of Black and Brown

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  1. In 2015, The Washington Post began to log every fatal shooting by an on-duty police officer in the United States. In that time there have been more than 5,000 such shootings recorded by The Post. Their website is called: Fatal Force.[]


Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

Always appreciate constructive feedback! Thanks.