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Policing and Blackness: What can be done differently to regain the community trust about policing

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George Floyd killing, policing and us

BY: Taiwo Adetiloye

Time and time again, another black male is brutally murdered by a police officer in America. The question that first comes to many people’s minds is, was the murder carried out by law enforcement officers racially motivated?

It is moderate to state that such claims about police brutality among racial minorities cannot be easily discarded in a jiffy due to the fact that history shows a pattern of consistency in the discussion thereof hence, it expatiates on today’s reality of policing that Slave trade, Racism, Jim crow laws, Segregation, and Black advocates (Black Lives Matters) and other minorities civil rights movements demanding for the equal treatments and justices buttress the question regarding the use of excessive force by some law enforcement officers especially across some parts of the world.

These questions cannot be completely wished away since we live in a racially polarized society. Having written a team research paper at Memorial University in Newfoundland on juxtaposing the difference between Canadian Police and the Nigerian police in a course titled Sociology of Policing, in which I reviewed a lot of journals and publications on the history of policing, and different types of policing across the globe.  The research was definitely not conclusive without the two other history elective courses I took while at Memorial University.

One of the history courses titled Theme: History of America. The course focused on the movie industry in America,  and how it sometimes portrays First nations, Visible minorities, Hispanics, and Irish as the villain in Hollywood. I end up writing a research paper on the movie titled “Do the Right Thing” by Spike Lee. The movie illustrates long centuries of racial inequalities, poverty in black neighborhoods, and why blacks are more likely to commit crimes because they are impoverished.

In the line of my research through history, politics, and other social sciences literary world, it shows that there is definitely a connection between policing either in a third world country, or elsewhere as an instrument set up by the early colonials used as tools to control, regulate, order, and deter those believed or tagged to be “non-conforming aberrant racial groups” or other ethnic or minority groups.

With time, policing has since moved on to be more advanced and institutionalized by the constitution of various countries. However, different citizens in every country experience policing differently.

The other course, I did, that captivate my imagination was a course on European history, where I learned a lot about the conquest, struggles, and contentions among different European territories. To name a few, the French revolution; fall of the Roman empire; class struggles among different European societies, and what Karl Max described as the class alienation, exploitation, and the relationship between the bourgeoises, and proletariat. My research background across humanities and art literature make me wonder why ethnicity and conflict within one’s race or same religious ideologies are not more emphasized in the media, for instance, the religious conflicts in Ireland; how some Italians are sometimes perceived as mafias; how Irish are sometimes perceived inferior Caucasians, the Biafra war, and the agitation for self-determination by the Biafrans and the Oduduwa Republic within the Nigeria state, etc. The media tend to make more emphasis on internalized racism, antisemitism, and Islamophobia, etc.

I feel so sad about the black man murdered, George Floyd, and many other ones murdered in such a brutal way in the hands of American cops. Many other black males in the US have also been killed in non-police racial related incidences. In addition, Black on black crime is known to be on the rise in America.

I have been publishing on news media outlets on governance, how technologies can be used by established institutions, social, and infrastructural challenges in political economy. The issue of police brutality as regard black murdered just recently got me thinking about adding my voice to millions of other voices, reactions, commentaries, and civil protests that are already opined and expressed on a quarterly basis. I am of the opinion that, there is always a need to always do extensive inquiry in order to get more clarity and direction about circumstances surrounding any unfortunate incidences and events.

The majority of people usually end up in adrenaline rush, which could make one’s sentiment turn to hate speech and crime. Thus, in order to deter the situation from escalating into hate speech, civil unrest, or mob action. Civil protest should be organized by respected community leaders, who will advise their followers to desist from violence during the protest. The community leaders must believe in non-violence, civil protest, and reconciliation. Vandalism by destroying and looting innocent people’s properties during civil protest should be highly discouraged.

In the case of George Floyd, He had been handcuffed and his hands were on his back. His death was horrifying, the man pleaded for his life, he was on his back and he was not fighting back. No question, the murder of George Floyd included the use of unreasonable and excessive force, I sincerely hope the judicial system will take its full course. On the other hand, there is a fine thin line between racism, hate speech, discrimination, and vandalism. Since two wrong does not make a right.  Instead, we should all come together and condemn the lack of professionalism during arrest, detention, and when force should not be used at all. The story could be a black cop and a black offender or white cop and white offender or between different races. In any case, we should all stand up for humanity and condemn what is not right and unjust. We should all remember that an injury to one is an injury to all regardless of race or gender.

I do recognize civil protests such as black life matters, friends, and those nonblacks who associate with the movement. I also acknowledge various black protests throughout American history. Civil rights movements have come a long way in America. I sincerely commend their efforts, tenacity, and resilience.

For the police officers doing a great job diligently and with human compassion. Your efforts are sincerely appreciated. Especially the community-oriented policing https://bit.ly/2TQXa3f  and other forms of policing. In addition, more improvements and research need to be carried out to improved intelligent policing which uses big data surveillance and statistics, Big data surveillance could trigger racial profiling in underprivileged communities prone to commit crimes.

As long as social media enables people to report with technologies. Especially, smartphones equipped with cameras. Thus, technology becomes a productive tool in a postmodern society. On the other hand, The media thrives on people’s sentiments and treading news. I feel sometimes the social media propagates news on racism and the other aspects of law enforcement that are not so good. I cannot think about seeing news on social media where caucasian cops murder a caucasian suspect while discharging their duties or any related instances where black on black crime are propagated on social media.

Racism, tribalism, discrimination, and hate crimes are real in every organization, country, and nation. It is just more visible with law enforcement and the criminal justice system in general because they are the first responder and are saddled with the responsibility of keeping the law. Unfortunately, these institutions cannot completely control the unfortunate events that sometimes end up in the media in unison with their responsibilities, professional ethics, and high expectations the society place upon their shoulders while discharging their primary assignment.

Every law enforcement department got an obligation to constantly train and retrain their new and old employees. The police department should have an improved way to properly deal with any forms of abnormalities by enacting laws that encompass reconciliation; Ensuring justice is served when an officer goes outside the line of duty or use unreasonable force; Issue of public apologies in case of wrongful arrest and forceful detention when media is involved; introduced compensations to individuals that are terribly treated as a result of a false accusation;  more accountability, transparency in reporting and investigation. The use of body cameras in crime surveillance and arrest should be incorporated. The police department should keep hiring more Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and First Nations to ensure diversity and multicultural society.

First Nations and black communities can form their own set of police departments which will be enacted by the law, this could improve and enable trust and conformity to law and order to a large extent.

Issues of the shortage of police personnel due to lack of adequate budgeting and planning in hiring more police officers should be prevented. This puts pressure on other police officers, making them experience work burnout; The police department should constantly ensure police officers are not stressed out, do not engage in a lot of overtime, or suffer from any form of stress disorder such as PTSD.

Policing in the US can be stressful since gun violence is widespread across America.

Taiwo Adetiloye

Taiwo Adetiloye

As long as humans see from the lens of color, ethnicity, and tribalism, as a result of the century-long effects of colonialism. Racial profiling, social inequalities, and other social vices will not be completely eliminated in its entirety. Unfortunately, visible minorities and other minority racial groups will still remain grossly affected at the epicenter of victimization and may continue to suffer maltreatment around the globe.

I will drop my pen by adding that “We should be human first in everything we do”

*Taiwo T. Adetiloye can be reached via Twitter: @TAdetiloye

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