Something clearly needs to change in this country. The recent police style executions of unarmed black men and women has to end. There is no excuse for the appalling loss of life and the cruel racism that enables these events to occur on a regular basis.
The left got it wrong—a better approach than defunding the police is to demilitarize it and then re-educate about the important function of policing in a democratic society.
American policing as the UK Guardian newspaper recently pointed out, has been” far less about fighting crime than controlling the poor” Controlling the poor has been virtually synonmous with keeping African Americans in their place. As Malik points out,
“African Americans form 13% of the population and 39% of prisoners. Apologists for the system suggest that this is the result of black people committing more crime. But look at the issue of drugs. Study after study shows similar rates of illicit drug use among black and white people. The former, however, are far more likely to be arrested, charged and convicted. The justice system itself creates the racial disproportionalities in drug crime.”
The epidemic of police violence has to end but can only truly start to re-educate and retrain police —their role should be to protect life. If situations are spiralling out of control then use tasers—fire a warning shot —but don’t kill someone out of fear.
This climate of fear and paranoia is cultivated by the “extraordinary arsenal American police possesses, from grenade launchers to armoured vehicles, comes from the Pentagon through the “1033” programme, under which surplus military equipment is handed over at no cost. Since 1997, the police have received $7.4bn (£5.3bn) of hardware this way. Unsurprisingly, the more tooled-up the police are, the more likely they are to kill civilians.”
If you are in a war —it is inevitable that you find an enemy —and if your enemy looks different from you and seems not to “respect” your extraordinary fire power—then we know all too well the consequences. A militarized police force has consequences. In a country that has not completely shed its racist past we must stop and reflect on where we are and stop the mad path we have been on now. Instead of investing the billions of dollars in weapons —invest those funds into conflict prevention, community rebuilding and communities based on trust not fear.