Let me be clear, concise and straight to the point.
I am a black man in America and I do not — I repeat — do not harbor any ill will toward law enforcement.
I do not wish to harm or kill police, nor do I wish harm upon them.
In fact, I personally know hundreds, if not thousands, of black men and 99.9 percent of them, I feel safe to say, hold the same stance as I do.
With the recent tragic and fatal shooting of two police officers in New York and the shooting two weeks later of plainclothes officers in that city, rhetoric is heard that black men are targeting police.
Do not get me wrong, there have been isolated incidents in the last few weeks involving black men shooting at or killing law enforcement members. And a terrible shame that is. Police are humans. They walk, talk and breathe, just like you and I. They have families. They go out on a limb every single time they put on a uniform.
That is to be commended and respected.
However, this notion that black men are a threat to law enforcement is unnerving. It’s an idea flamed from both sides, whether it’s by race, political affiliation or any other subset of people.
I could get into all types of statistics about black-on-black crime, high rates of blacks being incarcerated and the like, but it’s nothing new. Numbers are what they are. What I want to address is this notion that black men are waging war against police.
Most black men I know are law-abiding, God-fearing, tax-paying citizens. Some of those I know — more than I’d like to admit — are or have been lawbreakers. I’ve had close relatives and friends spend many days, sometimes years, behind bars.
But none has ever wanted to kill an officer or cause harm to anyone in uniform.
I know that people get up in arms about race relations in this country, and here in Lee’s Summit, with a population that is nearly 90 percent white, race may even be an uncomfortable topic to bring up.
I’ve covered the police beat for the last seven years in two predominantly white eastern Jackson County cities. My experience has been eye-opening. I have found an overwhelming majority of police officers of all races to be professional, courteous and stewards of the motto “to protect and serve.”
I’m sure there are a few with their own agendas and problems, but as a whole, I will not judge every single police officer based on the actions of a few.
In return, I ask that black men in America not be judged based on the actions of a few, relative to percentages.
I reject this notion that the black man is a threat to police.
Hopefully, you’ll reject it, too.
Toriano Porter is a reporter for The Lee’s Summit Journal, a sister publication of The Kansas City Star.