Courtesy Imani Khayyam

Zeakyy Harrington, 17, grew up in the Washington Addition, a neighborhood west of downtown Jackson, Miss. When he was 16-years-old, one of Harrington’s friends threw up their middle finger to a cop driving by and soon after the teenagers were being punched, cuffed and taken to Henley Young Detention Center. Photo Courtesy Imani Khayyam

by Zeakyy Harrington

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Sitting at Millsaps College listening to Mayor Tony Yarber talk about black people’s historic distrust of the police, I thought of the times I have seen the police mistreat young people in my neighborhood. Where I come from in the Washington Addition, you hear a lot about the way police mistreat people, and they also show it!

Like the time I was arrested for my friend throwing a middle finger at the cops in 2015 when I was 16. My friend Mal and his family was living at the Metro Inn motel on Ellis Avenue hear Highway 80. Me and three friends were just hanging out at the motel. A few police drove down Highway 80 in a single-file line, and Mal threw a finger sign, which made the cops make a U-turn.

They headed straight for us, but we just walked inside the motel room. A few minutes later, the cops started banging at the door. “JPD, open up!” they yelled.

When we opened the door, they rushed in the room and started snatching us by our shirts, taking us out of the room. After placing me in handcuffs, one officer punched me in my upper body several times. Mal was like, “Stop! You can’t hit no minor!” Then the cops attacked him. They then took us to Henley-Young Detention Center, and kept me for 12 days. I was charged with disorderly conduct.

So I understand why people distrust the police. Mayor Yarber talked about the police and community’s bond with one another, and how the police should build up their trust with the community, or just people in general. The police should give people a chance and try to understand them better, he said.

Even if they know the dealers have drugs, cops should give them a warning and a chance to do right before taking them down. Give us a chance to do better. Listening to Mayor Yarber talk about this trust problem and how he grew up in Subdivision 2, I think he truly understands.