Why Black People ‘Resist Arrest’

It was used as a justification for Rayshard Brooks’ and George Floyd’s killings. But resisting arrest is really about resisting the fate that invariably comes next.

Mike Muse
LEVEL
Published in
4 min readJun 18, 2020

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Photo: Angela Weiss/Getty Images

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Resisting is desperation. We know that this is a false arrest, that we are not guilty — but we also know that the moment we are placed in a squad car, we begin a slow, grinding procession through a system that rarely delivers the justice it purports to. Plea deals we shouldn’t have to take, the only means of avoiding the harsher penalty that comes of maintaining our innocence. A tangled web of district attorneys and judges elected to protect us but instead acting in league with private prisons.

Resisting is negotiation. We don’t want our mothers to be disappointed in us; we don’t want our employers to discover this unfounded predicament; we don’t want our children to be ashamed of us; worst of all, we know we don’t have the money to make bail or hire an effective attorney. If we can just make them see we weren’t doing anything, we can clear this all up.

Resisting is reflex. We know it deeply, because we know the stories of those who came before us: adrenaline threat supersedes rational thinking. Our strength is our only protection from a world of endless fear. We resist physically not because we want to, but because there is no other way to communicate when the people arresting us are deaf to our words.

The inhumane choice of pleading guilty to a five-year sentence despite knowing our innocence, just to avoid a potential 25-year sentence that we don’t have the economic means to fight. This is why we resist.

Maybe if we were Reese Witherspoon, we could confidently get in an officer’s face to question why they are detaining our loved one for driving under the influence; we could turn around and argue not to be handcuffed without the fear of brutality and excessive force. But we aren’t extended that privilege. Instead, we are…

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Mike Muse
LEVEL
Writer for

Mike Muse Intersects Politics x Pop Culture. He is host of "The Mike Muse Show" on SiriusXM & Co-host "Sway in the Morning" on SiriusXM & ABC News Contributor