Wed, 12 May 2021

Young dispatcher left police force almost 50 years ago over brutality

(Op-ed) Jerome Irwin
02 May 2021, 21:07 GMT+10

The George Floyd-Derek Chauvin murder trial once again seriously jogged the memory and disturbed the conscience of this particular 80-year-old white man and the reasons for his disillusionment with America's long-standing racially unjust police and legal systems. Especially when it came to the traumatic mental-emotional-psychic effects he'd suffered so many times before over similarly outrageous, biased, unfair, if not bordering on criminal, law enforcement practices he'd witnessed for decades waged against Black, Brown, Asian, Indigenous, and White peoples alike. Recalled again was how diminished had become not only his sense of idealism for what America actually stood for but also for his own once budding career in law enforcement, which also had long since 'gone south', forever.

Nearly fifty years have since elapsed when, as a once young idealistic man, full of hope and enthusiasm for the cause of Truth and Justice, he first began his new career in law enforcement as a police radio dispatcher in a small suburb on the outskirts of San Francisco, California.

By day, he was an eager Gung ho Criminology student at a local community city college. By night, he worked the graveyard shift until the next morning, when he and the other officers on shift would gather again at a local saloon to drink, guffaw and re-visit countless, war stories and tales about the sorted, outlandish or bizarre encounters they'd had the previous night with the host of characters and unruly-types they'd faced.

For a young novice in law-enforcement, it was an exciting time to listen to all the 'Old School', seasoned veterans weave their harrowing 'war stories' and tales of police work over the years with so many disparate types, conducted less 'by the book' than by their wits; tales that never saw their way onto any police blotter because whatever the unspeakable nature was of every one recounted came with the unspoken proviso that they were never meant to be retold beyond the confines of the saloon and ears of their mates.

Each morning, after having spent another long night of successfully getting through the hard twists and turns of yet another episode of the dark tales of the city, the drinking games would start up. Round the table, on the heels of another challenging drinking game, would flow yet another tale until, after reaching a point of near exhaustion, each officer would finally return home, bleary-eyed, to rest and revive themselves, until the next graveyard shift when the whole ritual would begin anew.

Yet it was on one night while on-duty, that that young police novice would see, with his own eyes, yet another 'incident' first-hand, that couldn't be joked about or easily laughed away, though typically no different than so many other similar incidents that had been seen or heard before in the course of the young dispatcher's limited experiences in law enforcement. This particular incident turned out to be the proverbial 'straw that broke the camel's back' for him and became a deciding factor in the direction his life would take in the future.


A young Black American was brought into the station one night to be booked for being drunk and disorderly and the young police dispatcher was told to get the holding cell and booking room ready to receive him.

Once inside the police station, to reach the cell and booking room required the arresting officer to guide the prisoner down a steep, windy flight of stairs. One of the arresting police officers, who had a thick Southern accent and wore cowboy boots, that said so much more about him and the part of America he came from beyond just its peculiar regional diction, that also suggested a particular way of life and attitude towards people, especially colored-people. The officer had the inebriated and defiant Black American prisoner firmly by the arm, who by this time already had his hands tightly handcuffed behind his back. The unruly drunken man clearly was under the control of the officer in more ways than one.

But as the officer led the wobbly man down the stairs, shaking him like a rag doll and slamming him against the wall each time he so much as uttered an objection, he suddenly had had enough of the drunk's behavior and extended the pointed tip of one of his cowboy boots in front of the unsteady prisoner that caused him to trip, head-first, and down the stairs, he went like a sack of rocks full on his face. Without the ability to break his fall the prisoner hit the edge of every step with his full weight until he finally made a perfect three-point landing at the bottom, his face a bloody mess.

The officer who did the tripping turned to his partner and young dispatcher and, with a wink, as if feigning to direct his comments to the prisoner himself, drawled, "Y'All gotta watch those stairs, my man!. They're mighty steep and slippery!" Nothing more was said and the prisoner was duly printed, booked, plastered with some bandages, and put in a cell to sleep it off until the next morning.

As the graveyard shift was going off duty, the two officers stopped by the dispatcher's desk and asked, with laser-pointed eyes, "You saw that crazy drunk trip on the stairs, right! What a basket-case he was!" Nothing more was ever said to the watch command officers and the incident was quickly forgotten. But the inhumanity and brutality of that moment never left the young dispatcher who mentally and emotionally began to take steps to reassess his career plans for the future.

Years later, as a teacher on several Indian reservations, and later as a teacher in schools located in Black, Brown, and White poverty ghettos, the gist of the stories between the police and the people were primarily always one and the same. The unendingly-repeated fears, tensions, abuse, and lack of justice meted out no different.


In 2021, by what has transpired between America's law enforcement personnel and the citizenry, it should be clear to every sober-minded Amerian or student of American history that ever since the United States first was formed as a nation, supposedly based upon its unique historical Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights, American Justice has meant diametrically different things to the Black, Brown and White Races.

Ever since 1776, glaring disparities have existed between how White America has meted out 'Justice' to its own race, compared to the brutal, fascist ways it has differently treated its former African slaves, Indigenous Turtle Island tribal peoples, as well as other 'colored' folks and their descendants. A long-standing joke commonly heard among them is that White people basically receive what could actually be called Justice, while the rest of America's colored folk receive what otherwise is cynically often referred to as the, "Just-Us System of retribution we get instead!".

To know this to be true, in spite of the recent decision in the George Floyd-Derek Chauvin murder trial, one need only briefly examine across-the-board the ongoing deterioration of American justice, society, and culture, and how the questionable legal and civil rights disparities of what continues to transpire, and continues to devolve especially for so many who somehow have become involved, one way or another, with, or affected by, the on-going protests and backlashes to the Black Lives Matter Movement. Well-known modern-day 'lynchings', as in the days of old in American culture, include such figures as: Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake, Rayshard Brooks, Ahmaud Arbery, Emmett Till, Rodney King, and countless others down through the ages who can attest to this patently true reality.

At this point, following on the heels of one of America's most contentious and pivotal trials in its history, the world continues to watch with bated breath as more and more states, and their legislative bodies, now consider new laws and actions designed to further prosecute and persecute racial protest movements in the future. The dread and apprehension continue as American ideology, dogma, truth, and justice remain locked in violent contention with monstrous fascist elements in their midst, and the very life and death struggle of the Democratic principles upon which the American nation once was said to be predicated, remain in serious question if not hopeless doubt.


The sculpture "Stand Tall, Stand Loud", conceived by the African American artist Aaron Bell, whose father once was a prominent jazz bassist with the Duke Ellington Band, was originally assigned a spot directly beneath a complex of apartment buildings in New York's Manhattan Riverside Park that still bears the name TRUMP.

However, the sculpture, shortly after it was unveiled, was removed and silenced by New York Park officials who deemed it at the time, "A Problematic Sculpture" for obvious political reasons, even though its lofty intent was meant to express to Americans and citizens the world over for the need to rise above and defeat the historical roots of so much black oppression, racial discrimination, and intolerance in American society and culture.

The original work featured a 'lynched' noose-like head on a muscular body with a captivating windmill part in its heart. On its base, a quote by Martin Luther King Jr reads, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter."

Aaron Bell's story, as both an artist and an African American, like George Floyd, is but one of millions of such stories that matter about the heroic determination, especially demonstrated among peoples of color, to rise above and defeat so much intolerance and injustice in their daily lives. American Justice or Injustice clearly remains a woeful travesty and abomination of what, from a humanistic perspective, should be a self-evident equally right, fair, and just principle for all regardless of their race, color, creed, or station in life.

Perhaps the prominent display of Aaron Bell's sculpture "Stand Tall, Stand Loud", in some appropriately dramatic place relevant to what is now going on in the aftermath of the George Floyd decision, perhaps in front of New York's United Nations Headquarters, or in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., would be a most appropriate location at this juncture in time.

Jerome Irwin is a Canadian-American writer who once upon a time in university was a Criminology student while working in one of America's local police departments. For decades, Irwin has especially sought to call world attention to problems of environmental degradation and unsustainability caused by a host of environmental-ecological-spiritual issues that exist between the conflicting world philosophies of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.

Irwin is the author of the book, "The Wild Gentle Ones; A Turtle Island Odyssey" (, a spiritual odyssey among the native peoples of North America that has led to numerous articles pertaining to: Ireland's Fenian Movement; native peoples Dakota Access Pipeline Resistance Movement; AIPAC, Israel & the U.S. Congress anti-BDS Movement; the historic Battle for Palestine & Siege of Gaza, as well as; the many violations constantly being waged by industrial-corporate-military-propaganda interests against the World's Collective Soul. He can be contacted at:

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