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Targeted by police and community

Anneliese Stoever and John Harrington at home in Saint Louis with their baby, John Henry Stoever Harrington.

By Anneliese Stoever

In watching hours of coverage of the murder of George Floyd and then protests, I heard one woman quoted as saying, “We cannot be expected to peacefully protest against our own genocide.” During the night, my husband turned to me and said he could be George Floyd. He is an African American man who is 6’6” and weighs over 200 pounds. His presence in the world makes some people feel threatened.

White people have no idea of the threat that police are to Black people, of the racism that Black people face on a daily basis, or of the stress that being targeted places on your health. We do not have that same lived experience. With that in mind, white people have no right to tell Black people how they should respond to these assaults on their human rights.

During the 7 years we have lived in our house, my husband has been:

a). Stopped by two police for raking our front yard and asked, “Do the owners know you’re here?” When John said he lived here, the Officers demanded to see ID.

b). Stopped for running a stop sign that does not exist. When John told the Officer that there was no stop sign, the Officer asked to search John’s car. John refused and the Officer told John he could be arrested. John replied that he wanted to speak to the Officer’s supervisor because he didn’t understand why he had been stopped. The Officer went back to his car to run John’s ID. John called me & told me he might be arrested. The Officer returned to the car and told John he would “just give him a warning this time.” A warning for not running a stop sign? Ridiculous.

c). Handcuffed in the parking lot at Schnucks because a white woman with two kids said John stole her purse. The Police were called. John’s car was searched and they found nothing. John asked them to review the surveillance cameras. The woman left her purse in the magazine aisle. She left without offering an apology.

White people: Have you experienced being targeted by police and community because of the color of your skin? NO—YOU HAVE NOT.

I strongly suggest that you not tell Black people the correct way that they should respond to being hunted and killed. Instead, educate yourselves about racism and be a true Ally. If Black people choose to share their experiences with you, listen and trust Black people’s lived experiences. Stand up for people. Value human rights over property rights. And stop watching biased news sources that vilify Black people.

White people: We have got to do better. My husband and our son deserve better.

—Anneliese Stoever of St. Louis, a long-time member of PeaceWorks-KC, was encouraged by her husband to share his story.

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