Black and Blue: A Humanizing Exercise

I recently became friends with a fellow graduate student who believes that the Church should be more active in the #BlackLivesMatter movement. This young woman is of Puerto Rican and African American descent. She was passionate about this issue because about 10 years ago her brother was assaulted and arrested by the NYPD while he was walking home from school on the Lower East Side.  After roughing the young man up, arresting him, and taking him to the precinct they soon learned that they had nabbed the wrong man.  It was a case of mistaken identity.  It turns out her brother just so happened to look like a man that they were looking for who, if I remember correctly, was a drug dealer.  Nonetheless, her brother was released and the police officers involved showed no level of remorse and were immediately protected by the powers that be.  Since then her brother has dealt with the trauma that befell him on that afternoon, suffering from severe anxiety and PTSD.  His sister noted that after the assault and arrest there was a distinct change in her brother, he became withdrawn, suffered in school, and was afraid to go outside due to the fear of what could befall him as he innocently walked the streets of New York City.  There ended up being a settlement between the NYPD and the young man, but the damage has been done.

On the flipside, a good friend of mine ended up becoming a police officer in the NYPD about 12 years ago.  His first stint was in one of the toughest precincts and neighborhoods in the entire city: Harlem.  Within his first year he had been shot at twice and had dealt with some horrific things that are often found in poor inner city neighborhoods.  To say that this has changed him is an understatement. He’s now been transferred to a better precinct, but the damage has been done.  Just recently I met up with him and he recounted to me some of what he has had to deal with throughout the years as a cop.  I can say that this man also suffers from certain levels of PTSD.  This makes sense when one considers the trauma he has undergone.  What’s more, when a police officer gets a call to any given situation there’s no way to know what he or she will encounter.  Imagine for a moment what that does to one’s nervous system and brain function over time.  Not pretty.




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