A recent viral video featuring a White Virginia police officer pulling over a Black woman and man, pranking them into believing they’ve done something wrong and then offering them ice cream, received tremendous criticism for downplaying traffic stops’ all too often violent outcomes for Black people. A new video from Fusion gets right to the heart of that criticism.
“I’m sure that the officers meant for their joke to be, you know, a joke,” Fusion’s Charles Pulliam-Moore says in the video above. “An opportunity for them to go out in the community, have a little bit of fun with some citizens—particularly at a time when so many Black people have many complicated feelings towards the police.”
Pulliam-Moore then jumps into the reason why this video, and others that police departments and their supporters create to ostensibly counter the image of law enforcement as brutalistic and racist, is a bad idea. “Being pulled over by the police less than a month after the entire world has watched as an innocent Black man was fatally shot during a routine traffic stop? It’s not fun, it’s terrifying,” he says over a clip from the infamous Facebook video that Philando Castile’s partner Diamond Reynolds took after St. Anthony (Minnesota) police officer Jeronimo Yanez shot him.
“Ultimately, those sorts of things, they’re about performing what a good cop looks like, not actually being a good cop,” says Pulliam-Moore. “Good policing is honest policing, and that’s what we need more of. Not more staged videos.”