BLACK LIVES STILL MATTER! - Hinda
The long wait for legislative change for African Americans is overdue.
On May 25th, a video on twitter went viral after George Floyd, an African American, died whilst police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck and as a result, suffocating him. This is yet another case of a black man being targeted by a belligerent police officer.
Protesters in Minneapolis, Minnesota, started demonstrating as a reaction to the video and by May 27th it had spread, not only to the other 50 states in America, but also worldwide. Using the death of George Floyd as a guiding force to seek for legislative change around police brutality and putting an end to systemic racism.
It has been almost a month and some since the death of George Floyd, but how have things changed?
The structure of governance through different sectors of America industries have created biases towards black people in America. These biases are seen overtly through how police officers view and how they treat black people when it comes to policing. The superior perspective is something that has been injected into the system since the arrival of the enslaved Africans coming to the Americas, who were captured and enslaved by the Americans and forced to build the economic structure of the country. The conversation started 400 years ago as systematic racism had been enforced upon people who wish to keep African Americans as second-class citizens and not as equals.
Centuries of systemic discrimination has been running through the United States of America and has yet to be held accountable. So, what is the solution?
Dr Phillip Atiba Goff, CEO of Centre for policing equity said in his Ted Talk: The path to ending systemic racism in the US? That:
“What we are seeing is the unrepentant sins, the unpaid debts. And so, the solution can’t just be we fix policing. It can’t be just incremental reform. We are not going to get to where we need to go just by reforming police”.
Dr Goff’s organisation, Centre for Policing Equity, measures how the police are biased. Throughout the years, they have partnered up with various police departments around the United States, collecting data on how to ensure police departments are reformed properly
According to Dr Groffs report in 2016, it states that , the average use of force per 100,000 residents by citizens race or ethnicity is higher for Black non-Hispanic at the average of 653 people comparted to the average of white (174), Hispanic (157) and Asian (32) people. The report conclude that their findings were “troubling” however believe that their report will help encourage people within American communities to “address a potentially wide-reaching problem proactively”.
Rashad Robinson, president of Colour Of Change has a different solution. His organisation wants to “channel presence into power”, believing that by applying pressure on local level state governments can help local communities fights for justice. In 2020 Ted Talk, Robinson addressed that his organisation encourages the community to fight racial injustice and hold their local district attorneys accountable.
“We have works to build a movement, to hold district attorneys accountable and to change the role of district attorneys in our country… what’s happening in Minnesota most likely live in a community where you have a district attorney that will not hold police accountable”.
Colour Of Change has created a national database to help victims of police injustice access “2,400 prosecutors” around the country to help hold district attorneys accountable when it comes to prosecuting the police.
Not only is systematic racism prevalent in America but also around the world. In a 2017 report by the Independent Review of Deaths and Serious Incidents in Police Custody it shows that the UK police also use of force (use of restraint) targeting BAME individuals, who are more likely to die in police custody than white people. Another report by the Independence Complaints Commission highlight the levels of distrust within BAME individuals, who are 76% less likely to trust the police, whilst 61% of that statistics were Black respondents.
We see many American organisations actively, either trying to educate police departments or trying to find someone to hold them accountable for the crimes. Who is holding the police in the UK accountable?
The UK has something called the “tripartite system” when it comes to police accountability. It holds 43 forces in England and Wales accountable. The structure consists of the Home Office, the local police authority and the chief constable of the force. The Police Complaints Authority was created to oversee police complaints and investigate them. However, they have struggled to gain credibility as the public has been questioning their independence, due to high level of proof needed. They were replaced by the Independence Complaints Commission, who have proven their credibility in investigating police complaints. Claiming that they are not a part of an government organisation or departments, and are an entirely separate body and claim their independence on the basis that they are no part of any government department, is an entirely separate public body, is independent of the police service, the 18 Commissioners of the IPCC, by law, must not previously have worked for the police.
What we learn for the US is that the local communities are uniting to create smaller organisation for information and education. The UK has a system more complicated policing system, as is tightly linked government. The UK has a more covert way of dealing with police injustices compared to the overt American organisation. One way this can change is if the IPCC go to different boroughs in the UK and educate the communities on how they can deal with injustices faced by residents. Encouraging proactivity within communities that are bound to get caught up in systemic racism is important. Creating small side organisation to help and educating communities on what can be done can take the first steps in battling the system.