Rapper/actress Queen Latifah has called on authorities to make sweeping systematic changes to bring about an end to the continued cases of police brutality against African-Americans.
The 46-year-old is among the celebrities who have been left heartbroken and outraged by the fatal shootings of Louisiana man Alton Sterling and Minnesota resident Philando Castile by cops earlier this week.
The controversies sparked protests in cities across the country on Thursday, but one march in Dallas, Texas turned violent when a sniper began opening fire on officers monitoring a Black Lives Matter demonstration.
Five police officials were killed, while seven cops have been left injured.
Latifah appeared on breakfast show “Today” on Friday to promote her new movie “Ice Age: Collision Course,” but the interview soon turned to the civil unrest, which has rocked the nation.
“I’m almost at a loss for words with this situation,” the star began, revealing she is struggling to keep a smile on her face during promotional duties for the film as she is so troubled by the deaths of Sterling and Castile.
The Dallas incident has left Latifah fearful for her own family as many of them are police officers, but as a black woman, she still worries about how she may be treated if she is stopped by an overzealous cop.
She continued, “I’m Queen Latifah, but I’m black wherever I go. I deal with the same experiences that other people deal with. I’m also the daughter of a cop, I’m also the sister of a cop, the cousin of cops, the niece of cops, so do I want the guns to now be turned on cops? I don’t want the guns turned on police any more than I want the guns turned on us.”
Latifah goes on to demand police chiefs take action to prosecute and punish those cops responsible for the unnecessary shootings, after a string of others involved in similar fatal incidents with African-Americans escaped conviction.
“It’s time to make an example out of someone… who is a police officer, ’cause there’s no way all these things could happen and there’s no guilty police officer,” she said.
“Every time these things happen, no one is really brought to justice at the end of the day. By the time it’s all said and done, the police officers usually walk, and what it does is leave us feeling empty and feeling hurt and feeling like we have no recompense, and that it’s gonna happen again. And what it does is also endanger the lives of police officers; it just creates more animosity.”
She insists serious changes are needed within the police force itself to allow officers to report “bad” cops and not fear being punished for calling out one of their own.
“You make all these good cops have to walk out here dealing with bad cops’ BS (bulls##t), dealing with the stuff that bad cops are doing. And the thing about it is, cops know that there are bad cops, but… I think their higher ups are leaving them powerless… so if they wanna say, ‘Hey, this dude is a bad apple’, they don’t leave them in a position where they can say it.
“What happens? You say something about it and then you’re blackballed. So this thing is something that really needs to start from the top because it’s leaving police officers powerless.”
Talking about this week’s atrocities, Latifah added:
“It’s terrible, but we have to get real about it. If we get real about it, we can deal with it. But if we want to act like, ‘Oh no, that’s their problem,’ and, ‘This only happens here…’ No, it’s happening to all of us and it should not have to affect all of us.
“We need police and we also don’t need to be the enemies of police. We need to really come together, face our real racial issues and deal with what’s happening from a systemic point of view. It’s gotta change.”
Latifah is not the only star demanding systematic change – Beyonce issued a call to action to her fans on Thursday urging them to lobby their local congressmen and women to make their grievances heard and Snoop Dogg and The Game took part in a peace rally in Los Angeles.
Lupe Fiasco, Macklemore and John Legend have also addressed the issues.