On April 3, 1948, eight Black men became the first to integrate the all-white Atlanta Police Department.
While the Black community celebrated, it was their new coworkers - NOT criminals in the streets - who first plotted to take their lives!
Resentful over the shift in power the integration created, white officers routinely threatened them with violence.
The rookie cops, desperate to do their jobs despite a lack of resources - including being denied access to defense weapons, transportation, or even a proper headquarters - turned to their neighbors for help in fulfilling their promise to “protect and serve.”
The Butler Street YMCA, nicknamed the “[B]lack city hall” for its reputation among community leaders and political movers and shakers, was also happy to serve as an improvised precinct.
Foot patrolling the majority Black neighborhoods they were assigned encouraged the officers to develop strong relationships and resolve conflicts “not with a blackjack in your hand or a .38,” as torch-bearing Officer Robert McKibbens described it, “but by trying to talk to people, just sitting down and listening - that’s something no one else had tried before.”
Today’s law enforcement often expresses a desire to have principles like these officers did through community policing.
However, as long as being shot by police is a leading cause of death for Black people the hopes these officers had are being killed daily.