Police Brutality and The System that's allowing it to happen
Updated: Mar 5, 2021
2020 and the structural racism present in America and all over the world is still going on. Black lives are in danger, they are being killed by the very officers that were supposed to protect them. All because the colour of their skin; their racial identity. Your difference should never be seen as a threat. Yet the American Policing System makes these crimes possible, the system is like a petri dish allowing these issues to grow and grow without stopping them. Here are a couple reasons why the system is so broken and why so little has been done to fix it.
How cops are trained
The American government prides itself on the fact that their law enforcement are some of the best trained officers in the world, but this training, no matter how 'good', is part of the problem. It's about what they're taught to do, how they're trained. Sure, being trained seems like it has positive connotations, they aren't unreliable, they don't "bend the rules" but that's what's so dangerous. The rules are causing these atrocities; and if they're not the direct cause, the rules and training allow cops to behave in racially prejudiced ways without facing hardly any consequences.
Police officers are told to stay on their guard all the time. They're told to always be alert because if they aren't alert, someone could take advantage of it. They're told not to hesitate. According to Seth Stoughton, a law professor at the university of South Carolina, cops are taught to act without hesitation, "they're taught to act, not react...sometimes even before a threat fully manifests." And what's this 'threat' then? Who fits this profile of a potential threat? Racial Minorities, and more specifically the black minority in America. The fact that cops are taught to react to potential threats from the earliest stages of training means that police brutality and murder can all just go under the excuse of "we were just doing our jobs, we're being good police officers, we're removing a threat" This threat, this 'dangerous' threat is oftentimes anything but. A Black man with "forged" 20 dollar bill for example, A black man jogging, selling CDs, parking, walking at night, holding a toy gun, having a broken tail light, holding a phone. Doing anything that is not a threat is seen as a threat because of their racial profile. The cops are taught everything in black and white. If a white man were to do any of this, and WAY more threatening things, what could they get? A handshake, a trip to f*cking burger king at the back of a cop car (I'm not even kidding it happened) and god forbid A WARNING.
Police Officers are taught to react violently, not verbally. Violently. If a threat is potentially manifesting, they have weapons and they are encouraged to use them. According to the police executive forum of August 2015, police officers were trained 8 hours with conflict de-escalation but 129 HOURS WITH WEAPONS AND FIGHTING. 129 HOURS. clearly a really balanced ratio, don't you think?
if you don't already think this system is completely messed up there's more
There are a couple of police seminars on warrior policing which is essentially telling police officers in training that they should use violence and that killing people is totally normal. Of course not all police officers abide by this mind set, but it exists. The cop who fired 7 shots at Philando Castile* had taken this seminar in warrior training. Now, we can't just blame this disgusting act on the type of policing but the training given to cops allows this type of behaviour to be implicated. It influences them, it lets them act in this way without much fear of prosecution.
Police Unions and the fact that police officers can play by a different set of rules
Even though it seems like one side against the other in the fight to end police brutality that's not even the case. The sad truth is that police officers aren't even on the same chess board as the racial minority they are targeting - they are allowed to play by a completely different set of rules. Which does help them because they are put in the line of danger. But these rules should not be able to allow a police officer to shoot an innocent black civilian and not risk many consequences. It's almost impossible to win a lawsuit against a cop. In lawsuits against cops you have a prosecutor but these prosecutors work with cops on other cases such as homicides etc. so essentially it's like you have a friend who you get on really well with but when you find out they've been cheating on a test your teacher wants you to come clean (I know this isn't nearly as bad as the actual situation but the idea is still there).
There's also something called qualified immunity. So if you sue someone, you have to prove they violated their rights but when you sue a cop, they have to have violated a clearly established lawsuit - but that can only happen if a police officer has been successfully tried and prosecuted for violating this right previously. If no cop has been tried for violating a lawsuit before you sue another officer, they get let off.
Police have to record their misconducts. That seems quite good, right. Wrong. these records, if some police unions fight for it, could be cleared every sixty days. So if a cop was convicted for misconduct, the system wouldn't show if they'd had any priors because they would have been erased and they would probably be let off. AGAIN.
The police unions essentially block police reform - they provide cops with immunity and they give cops time to corroborate their stories.
All of this means that police officers think they can act without consequence. Because they feel like they are protected.
The officers responsible for the killing of George Floyd have been convicted, but how long did that take. And before, Floyd's killer was only charged with 3rd degree murder. They were only convicted because of the protests. Because people are finally waking up and realising what's happening. So this can't stop. Right now there is a ton of media coverage, people covering their social media with ways to help the black lives matter movement but previously this has fizzled out. Now is the time to actually learn about all of this, actually educate yourselves and others, actually try and make a difference.
I know this blog post was more centred around the American policing system as I'm yet to educate myself in the British system but the UK isn't innocent. There is still systemic racism present in the UK and this movement applies to everywhere not just the United States.
(The video I used to educate myself on all this)
(also a quick aside: silence on social media does not mean silence on the entire matter. I've seen a couple of people shaming others for not speaking out on social media but they could literally be doing everything else; donating, reading articles, educating themselves, protesting, signing petitions. Social media has a way of making even the most genuine things superficial so not broadcasting your support shouldn't be shunned.)