African-American parents talk to children about how to interact with police

Posted at 1:03 AM, Jul 08, 2016
and last updated 2018-07-24 21:30:17-04

After two black men were killed by police officers in two different parts of the country this week, some parents are not only talking to their children about police shootings, but also reminding them how to act if an officer ever stops them. 

Waco NAACP President Dr. Peaches Henry and parent said in the African- American community parents talk to their children at a young age, about how to interact with a police officer.

She recalls her father having that conversation with her brother and her having that conversation with her 21-year-old when he was six or seven years old.

"This is a conversation that we have with our children, African American children. We tell them to comply, to do exactly what the police officer says to you. Keep your hands in the steering wheel, don't move without telling the police officer you're going to move. Don't come off as aggressive,” Dr. Henry said."That young man in Minnesota, he did everything what his mom had taught him to do. He did, and he did not survive."

She adds that every time her son leaves Waco to go back to college in Austin, she reminds him to comply with officers, if he is stopped by police.

"I could've been watching television today and tomorrow that's my son who's there. That's a very big concern for African American parents,” Dr. Henry said.

She questioned the recent officer-involved shooting in Minnesota that left Philando Castile dead after he was stopped for a broken tail light.

“We are left to wonder what the conversation would do for us. How would it protect our children and I'm concerned about this, why is it African American men are perceived as criminals before they're perceived as citizens. That man had a woman and a child in the car and he's complying as far as we know with what he is supposed to do, yet he is dead,” Dr. Henry said.

These incidents also lead to other tough conversations.

"What makes it difficult, it's to tell our children that police officers are there to protect them. It makes that conversation difficult. From little children all the way up to children as old as my son,” Henry said. “Certainly the majority of police officers do not commit such acts. However, how do we know which one is which.”

She said the Waco NAACP and the community intends to continue to fight fight for changes in training of police officers and data collection on those killed in similar incidents by race. In addition, she said they will also fight for departments to have body cameras.

"Despite the fact that we are confused, we are hurt, we are anxious for the lives of African American young men, we are not hopeless. We do believe that justice will prevail and we'll continue to fight for it," Henry said.

News Channel 25 reached out to several police departments in our area on Thursday afternoon checking whether the officer-involved shootings that left two black men dead this week have impacted their policies. Some departments did not return our calls, others declined to comment on incidents at other departments.

According to the Woodway Public Safety Department, their policies remain the same. In addition, their officers are always told to be cautious, professional and courteous.

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