enhanced use of force
so who but the Lord
Deadly force “is always the last resort” and that philosophy, as well as de-escalation training, needs to be ingrained into the department’s policies, Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom told The Detroit News Tuesday.
So starts an article in the Detroit News with the headline, “Grand Rapids police need enhanced use of force, de-escalation training, chief says” by Leonard N. Fleming.
The words, enhanced use of force, de-escalation training, strung together in a line, the syllables clicking in a row like the sound of the wheels of a train over gaps in the tracks, grabbed and held my attention.
The article details the efforts of the Police Chief of Grand Rapids, Michigan (where I grew up) to address publicly the death of Patrick Lyoya, 26, who was shot in the back of the head by officer Christopher Schurr on April 4 following a tussle on the ground … after a traffic stop.
Mr. Fleming quotes the Chief as saying, “From what I’m hearing from the community, a real vocal part of the community is there’s no rebuilding trust. You’ve got to build it because it was never there.“
Chief Winstrom said that on April 26th, 2022.
In 1947, in the magazine, Poetry, Langston Hughes published this poem.
I looked and I saw
That man they call the Law.
He was coming
Down the street at me!
I had visions in my head
Of being laid out cold and dead,
Or else murdered
By the third degree.
I said, O, Lord, if you can,
Save me from that man!
Don’t let him make a pulp out of me!
But the Lord he was not quick.
The Law raised up his stick
And beat the living hell
Out of me!
Now, I do not understand
Why God don’t protect a man
From police brutality.
Being poor and black,
I’ve no weapon to strike back
So who but the Lord
Can protect me?
The title of the poem is ‘Who but the Lord?‘
A footnote in the “The collected poems of Langston Hughes” (Knopf, 1994) says that the last line was added when the poem was reprinted in the book, The Panther and the Lash.
That was in 1967.
That last line again?
I gots no real standing as a social critic so I will take refuge (hide) under the cover of saying I am only a social commentator.
I just hold up the mirror and you can see what you want to see.
The Rev. Al once said something along the lines of, “You can use a mirror to reflect yourself or you can use a mirror to correct yourself.”
You’ve got to build trust because it was never there.