Perhaps emboldened by U.S. Attorney Jeff Session’s stance on how maligned American police officers are and how we should all “just say no” to drugs, a sheriff in Florida posted a video that has many befuddled and some enraged.
What might be comical in any other circumstance is actually scary because the U.S. police are often highly militarized, and, in a lot of instances, dangerous—at least against people of color. That and they are protected by the law to kill and face no consequence.
In a video posted Friday to the agency’s Facebook page, Lake County Sheriff Peyton Grinnell (Lake County includes the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Florida, area) told drug dealers that his undercover agents have already bought heroin from them, adding that officials are “simply waiting for the arrest warrants to be finalized.”
The imagery is striking—the four cops stand behind Grinnell in black hoods, masks or shades so that their faces are covered, and the way in which Grinnell speaks brings to mind the terrorist organization, ISIS (or ISIL), which makes provocative and threatening videos.
“Enjoy looking over your shoulder and constantly wondering if today is the day we will come for you,” says Grinnell. “There are those that may say it was over the top. Well, if the message got out that A., our citizens can call us and remain anonymous, and B., that the drug dealers move out of this county, I’m OK with that.”
Grinnell said a number of citizens have contacted him recently about the number of heroin overdoses in Lake County. He urged more citizens to call in anonymously.
However, Grinnell seems to be only speaking to the “dealers”—whom we can all guess are most likely Black and/or Hispanic because those are the people on whom over-the-top use of force is often used on.
To wit, this type of SWAT team action rarely ends well for Black folks. Just ask the family of 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones, who was killed in a raid in her home. That officer got off, too.
The video has been seen at least one million times.
“I was a little shocked with the black mask over the face. I mean, come on, these are everyday police men, are they not? I thought it was kind of shocking,” Lake County resident Denise Beique said to Orlando News 6.
According to the outlet, Grinnell said this was the first video he’s done while he’s been sheriff and hopes it will build more of a rapport between the community and the sheriff’s office.
“My drug agents live that world every day, that dark and dangerous world. They wanted to be a part of that proactive stance in that video because they’re undercover—they have to wear masks. It’s a state statute, but I was glad that they wanted to participate in that,” Grinnell said.
SOURCE: Orlando News 6