“Back the blue” enthusiasts have a go-to narrative to toss around anytime people are criticizing the racism and brutality of police officers: “Everyone hates cops until they need one.”
This, of course, is a position of privilege as white people tend to be unaware of anyone’s lived experiences besides their own, and that privilege blinds them to the fact that Black people hate cops…even when we need them.
Meet Shantel Arnold.
On Sept. 20, the 34-year-old Black woman who is less than five feet tall and weighs about 100 pounds was attacked by three local boys in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, according to WWNO 89.9.
The attack was reportedly caught on camera before the boys were chased away by 71-year-old Lionel Gray, whom Arnold considers her stepfather. As shameful and horrendous as that attack was, Arnold said her most serious injuries weren’t caused until the police arrived.
“I’m on my way home. I ain’t make it all the way to the block, the police come out of nowhere, swarming, getting me like, ‘Come here.’ I’m like, ‘What’s going on? I just got beat up by two children, what ya’ll doing?’” Arnold told internal investigators who are looking into the actions of the sheriff’s deputy involved in the second attack on the victim.
Two witnesses who were also interviewed by investigators from Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office said the unnamed deputy grabbed Arnold by her hair and slammed her head repeatedly into the pavement with so much force that braids were ripped from Arnold’s scalp in the incident that was also partially caught on a witnesses cell phone camera.
At the beginning of the video, the deputy in question is seen holding Arnold by her wrist while she’s lying on her back. The deputy can then be seen jerking Arnold around and lifting her up before the two disappear from the camera’s view behind a parked SUV. When they come back into view, the deputy is seen holding Arnold by her braids, slamming her repeatedly onto the ground and slinging her around like a ragdoll before placing his knee on her back to cuff her.
Now, bootlicker white people are going to look at this video and stick to their usual script of cop-apologist questions:
What happened before the video started recording? Was she resisting arrest? How do we know the officer’s use of force wasn’t justified?
Here are the questions those people never ask:
Why would the victim of an attack be arrested in the first place? How is it that a trained officer his size can’t restrain a much smaller woman without treating her body like a dog’s chew toy? Is a cop’s authority really so sacred that any resistance to said authority —even by a woman who is showing clear signs of having already been a victim of violence—justifies them causing this degree of harm?
As it turns out, Arnold was taken to the hospital to be treated for her injuries, but she was never charged with a crime—and I guess we’re all supposed to ignore the likelihood that her lack of charges means the cops know there was never any reason to arrest her.
According to Arnold and the witnesses, the deputy demanded Arnold stop and talk to him, but Arnold told him she’d just been assaulted and just wanted to go home, so she kept walking, which they said prompted the deputy to jump out of his patrol car, grab her and slam her to the ground.
According to a report published by WWNO and ProPublica, Black people in Jefferson Parish have, for decades, accused the Sheriff’s Office of using excessive force against them, making false arrests and ignoring the abuse and racism of its deputies. The investigative report found what investigators usually find when researching racial disparities in use-of-force incidents—that Black people get it the worst and, by a wide margin, the most often.
So yeah—we need police protection just like anyone else does, but we can still hate cops and for plenty of good reason.