I found Wednesday’s Facebook post of white police officers passing out popsicles to Black children in the Community Housing Unit to be irresponsible, and counterintuitive to the newspaper’s role in the community.
Let’s be clear: This sort of coverage is not for the people, it’s for the police department. Images of white officers handing out popsicles to Black children perpetuate false, toxic narratives, i.e. that the police are good guys, and Black people need them. However, this nation’s history of anti-blackness and police violence is more publicly apparent than ever. Across the U.S., people are calling to defund and abolish police.
It is the job of journalists to hold public officials accountable. It is not the job of journalists to glorify the Danville Police Department. Not ever, and especially not in the middle of the people’s revolution.
The comments — the only comments I can see under Facebook’s “relevant” comments feature — are mostly positive. The “these are nice guys!” and “the kids loved it!” comments help white people sleep better at night. “Cops aren’t racist, see?” these images beg of us.
As an artist and former Commercial-News photojournalist, I know that images are powerful. Images can be weaponized. In this case, a post that has been shared hundreds of times with heart emojis, images can be dangerous. The Commercial-News must do better during this crisis of systemic oppression and police violence in America. The newspaper works for the people, not the police.
Sunny Strader Los Angeles, Calif.