On Tuesday evening, in the midst of the Ferguson protest outside the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), a group of protestors confronted a black police officer and challenged him. One young woman, who identified herself as a UCLA student and appeared to be white, demanded of the officer: “As a person of color, are you ashamed to be part of such a corrupt system?…As a black man, have you ever experienced racism?”
The officer answered that he had grown up in Jackson, Mississippi during the Jim Crow era. “I know racism. I can spot it,” he said.
She was not satisfied. “Do you accept that there are covert types of racism?” she asked, citing an example of a woman clutching her purse tightly when he entered an elevator. “Racism is a structure of power,” she insisted. “You are a black man. You are kept down by your race, even if you won’t accept it.”
He threw the challenge back at her. “Think about it. There are people who don’t like me–they don’t know me–because of my uniform. Is that discrimination or not? Yes or no?”
“That’s a bias,” she said. “Job discrimination is different. I’m talking about your race. The color of your skin…You’re a black man. You’ll never reach the same pinnacle as a white man in this system, because you are black.” Others, gathered nearby, applauded loudly.
The officer then asked the student what she did in her free time, noting that he tutored students in his community.
“Are you helping your black community out?” she demanded.
“It doesn’t matter what the race is,” he replied. “Yes it does!” the demonstrators shouted.
“So I should go to a school and volunteer with all African-American kids…but all the others–the Asian, the Hispanic kids–not help them out? That’s wrong,” he replied.
“Color is color,” she insisted.
Another demonstrator soon arrived–a 40-year-old black man, who challenged the officer to join the demonstration.
“Once you take your badge off, you’re just like me. And they [police] will treat you as such….You are black and you will always be black. Never forget your own.” The other demonstrators applauded and whooped.
The videographer, Bryan Hayes–who live-streamed the protests–soon moved on.
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak