By: Makayla Gilliam- Price
While the targeting of individuals has proven to be one of the more unproductive methods of fighting for justice, exposing the problematic actions of people in power can often shed light on not who, but what should be our true target: the systems that create and uphold the individual instances of oppression that we struggle against daily-- not the agents of said systems. For this reason it is necessary to uncover the tweets of Victor Gearhart, a veteran Baltimore Police Department Lieutenant and more importantly, the Vice President of the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police. With a mere 67 followers, (many of which are reporters from The Sun, the official Baltimore City FOP twitter, and other Baltimore police officers and police support accounts,) and no identifiable avi, it should come as no surprise that with such an unaccountable group of followers many of us have never seen these tweets. However, thanks to Michael A. Wood Jr., a former Baltimore Police Officer, these tweets were brought to my attention. Since seeing these tweets, it has become even more visible that racism, ableism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and classism are deeply entrenched in systems meant to protect us, and have manifested themselves in the tweets of racist white police officers, meant to distract us from effectively fighting the root of these issues. To that point, while it may feel good to attack Gearhart’s twitter account, it is safe to say that no concrete change will be derived from merely that. Instead, we should read and share these tweets, understand the magnitude of Gearhart’s words given his position of power, counter mainstream media narratives that leniently characterized Gearhart as simply “dispirited,” and go after the policies that uphold and protect the actions of police that are inexorably linked to supremacist attitudes such as Gearhart’s: demand that the Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights be reformed, demand a civilian review board with legitimacy, demand police accountability.