The United States of America has not learnt anything from the Civil Rights Movement and the time of the Reverend King. Life in the States seems to be returning to the pre-existing norm of street protests due to police officers maiming and killing unarmed black men.
The recent case of the murder of George Floyd has sparked this. I will state clear from the outset, I cannot even begin to understand the feeling and resentment there is within the black community in the States, but I do know that the way that the citizens of Minneapolis have reacted is not the correct way to go about it. Dr King would not, and did not, support it and nor would Rosa Parks. It reminds me of the dichotomy of the Suffragettes versus the Suffragists with the latter being the rational, sensible ones, whom in my eyes, had more impact on women’s rights to vote than the former.
If you have watched the video of Mr Floyd, you can see how evil and pernicious this officer was to this innocent man. Eight minutes this officer decided to press his knee on his nice to prevent him from breathing correctly and in addition to that, the three other officers, who did not seem interested in the slightest, are now going to taking the Fifth Amendment.
Statistics on this area are stark. Only 27 days last year was there a day that a civilian was not killed by a police officer. The homicide rate for black and white people shows that there is a disparity of 3 times more likely that the death will be a black individual. There is also 6 times more chance of a police death in Oklahoma than in Georgia, which could give rise to the sad stereotypes about the South.
The argument I have heard trying to defend these officers are that it is to do with crime being committed and certain demographics are more susceptible to committing illegal offences than others. This is a complete falsehood. Take Oklahoma City as an example, their average crime rate is slightly above 8%, when their brutality rate is above 20%.
Why is this continuing? It is very difficult to answer that question. Cultural beliefs seem to have not changed as much as one would hope and there is still entrenched bigotry but a prime example of the worst element – aside the awful death toll – is the accountability that the populum has. 99% of killings by police from 2013 to the present day have resulted in no charge and then it is only a quarter of those 1% who are indicted and convicted by a court.
Police departments all over the United States have forced certain policies onto their officers to reduce this. A ban on chokeholds and strangleholds saw a 22% drop in death and a requirement of an officer to use all other means before shooting – which you would expect is the norm – brought down the toll by 25% in the States that implemented the policy.
There have been reports that African Americans also have a higher death rate from COVID-19, which is factually accurate. The causes of such are unknown but the raw data is clear. A shocking statistic is that 93% of arrests over COVID-19, in New York alone, have been black people.
Politicians also have a role in this. Donald Trump has not exactly been the bastion of support in this area, and that is a shame, but neither has Joe Biden. They both seem to be unaware of the damage that this is causing. Joe Biden only recently said on television that those who were unsure whether to back him or President Trump “were not black”. This is a complete outrage and if this were ever said by President Trump, the reporting would be staggeringly more. This is because people seem to believe, as a rule, that the Democrats are on the side of the ‘blacks’ and the Republicans, the ‘whites’. These people really should do some reading on George Wallace.
Thankfully, the officer-in-question over this incident has been charged with murder and manslaughter but please read the small print. He has been charged with third-degree murder. The definition is: “without intent to effect the death of any person, caus[ing] the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life”. I have to say, if anyone can watch that video and not see intent, I would be eminently shocked. It was perfectly clear what the intentions of the officer were, and he should not be let off with a lenient sentence in any sense.
The collapse of governance and order has forced the African American community to, once again, demand their necessity and right of life. What is the alternative? If the State cannot perform its basic tasks and police officers act like they are above the law and if they contravene it, are rarely prosecuted, this could seem that your only option.
In addition to the fact that the police officer murdered Mr Floyd, over his 19-year span as an officer he has opened fire on two people and had nearly twenty serious complaints against his record. He used to be a bouncer in a nightclub and I truly hope that his actions of present were not ones that he enacted in his previous role also.
One can only hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel of this situation in the States, but it is hard to see. If the time of the Civil Rights Movement did not awaken America, what will? This cannot last forever and really must be dealt with as a matter of emergency. This is not a new phenomenon. It is simple. Government after government have failed to make a substantive difference for these people and now, they are fighting.