No one should be or would be raising glasses to the death of five police officers, following protests and riots in America last week. You cannot make your candle brighter by putting out the candle of another. But if the problem in America is to be resolved, it goes without saying that America as a nation, needs to take a psychosocial scalpel to its own psyche for inner examination. When America made history by electing its first black president, the whole world saw the dawning of an age; that America had come of age by recognising that race, age, religion or “birth certificate” are no deterrents to what can be achieved in this “free society”. The election of Barack Obama lent credence to the adage that America was the land of the free and the land of opportunities. How ironic has that turned out to be, as it was during his tenure of office that America has seen over a thousand black lives wasted at the hands of the very people supposed to protect them. Many have concluded that that this is institutionalised racism. You be the judge.
It is unquestionable that the birth of “Black Lives Matter” is a direct response to the interracial imbalance that has been seething on the minds of America’s minority groups. It is a concomitant effect of the pseudo diversity of American society, which has degenerated into the quagmire of perceived pervasive police brutality and corruption. It is also irrefutable that the police all over, are doing a stellar job on a daily basis; putting their lives on the line to protect life and property. Can you imagine a world without the police? Keeping Law and Order in society is the fundamental role of the police everywhere. This has never been so right, than at this time; when the world appears to be angrier by the second. The world has become so violent that those who have gone before us would prefer to stay where they are today. The need for the police has never been greater in these tides of times. But in a world, where the falcon cannot hear the falconer, things seems to fall apart.
Sadly, American policing has rightfully come under the spotlight for obvious reasons. Killing just one person at the hands of the police can be seen by many as one too many. It goes with the territory that at some times, these deaths though regrettable are sometimes unavoidable. But looking at some of the footages captured on phone cameras and shown on social media have brought home the reality of how debased American policing attitudes have become. It will be laughable to conclude that this is a new trend in American society. The difference this time is that, society is no longer waiting for the media to cherry pick what to feed its audience. In a world where everyone has become a journalist and media expert, thanks to smart phones, the Facebook and WhatsApp generation, beaming live streams of events in real time have shifted the dynamics of the public’s perception of media consumerism.
Many footages have demonstrated that the Police have actually made issues out of nothing. They have more often than not created dramas out of nowhere. If most of the footages are anything to go by, one can be excused to conclude that police in America have demonstrated a penchant for creating a riot in an empty room. Even in situations where there is no need for it, their over aggressive approach has led to many thinking, “there was no need for that”. It is common sight to see a group of police officers pouncing on alleged perpetrators for what many will describe as misdemeanours. The behaviour of the police (the minority) leaves one wondering whether “de-escalation” has any place in their police training manual. This is not to say that such “force” has not been necessary at times; but the majority has proved to be otherwise. But can you imagine losing your life for driving a vehicle with a broken tail light? Was that a price worth paying?
It is very easy to conclude that this piece is aimed at castigating the police. Far from that. The majority in the American police force are a force for good. But as statistics go, when you consider that the behaviour of the minority is not only peculiar to one geographical area of America, when you consider that it is a monopoly dished out to one particular race, when you consider that the outcomes are similarly tragic, it becomes even more difficult to justify such behaviour. America was built on the foundation of freedom, but how free are Americans today, when the very people who are tasked to promote and protect those freedoms have become judge and jury? How do you justify shooting a man running AWAY from you? How can you brazenly defend such an action as “self-defence”?
In the recent past, most of these killings have gone unaccounted for, or swept under the carpet. The duty of the police, among others is to uphold the law. But does upholding the law make puts one above the law. How many police officers have been held accountable for their actions or inaction? When George Zimmerman, the police officer who shot and killed unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, put the same gun that killed the teenager for auction, it reportedly reached $65m (£45m). As if his death was not sad enough, under the misconstrued and warped notion of “freedom”, Zimmerman was given the freedom to rub salt in the wounds of the family and relatives. The United Gun Group hosted the auction. In a statement on Twitter they defended the sale of the gun on their site. They were “truly sorry” for the Martin family’s loss but said it was their goal to “defend liberty”.” Unless the law has been violated, it is the intention of the United Gun Group to allow its members to use any of the available features. While not always popular this is where we stand.”
Zimmerman defended his action that “I’m a free American, and I can do what I would like with my possessions.” He forgot to add, “I am a free American, I can kill blacks as and when I want” It is all well and good to say that Zimmerman was expressing his right and freedom to auction the gun, but the response from the American public in bidding for such an item was not only symbolic, but was also a tacit approval of the incident from Americans. That was a window of America’s psyche; that it was morally and ethically bankrupt. It seemed to show that “black lives don’t matter”. For any American to glorify such an act of barbarism in the name of freedom, was nothing less of moral bankruptcy.
The police are there to uphold the law, but like in any other walk of life, they should be accountable for their actions. Like any other, every job or role comes with a job description. Unfortunately in America today, the police though rightly revered, have become a protected species. It is becoming increasingly treasonable to say a bad word about the police. They are doing such a “wonderful job” for society that any negative vibes about them is seen as an unpardonable offence with no room for parole.
It will be unforgiveable to tar the whole American police force with the same brush. Believe me, there are good cops out there. Unfortunately, they have become the silent and unheralded majority; thanks to the brutish behaviour of the few. Where does America go from here? The recent events have brought a lot of issues to the forecourt; from gun crime, gun ownership (conveniently called the 2nd Amendment”), race relations, and the presidential elections have all been lumped into a sharp focus; especially when you have presidential aspirants aiming to invest political capital out of such a tragedy. Just ask Trump; he even offered to make a speech at the police headquarters but was rightly rebuffed.
Lest we forget, “Black Lives Matter”, but does it? As ironies go, if “Black lives Matter”, why the “Black on Black” gun crime? History has shown that gun killings among blacks by blacks has been a perineal disease in our neighbourhoods. If as blacks, we want to show that “Black Lives matter”, such charities should begin at home. The spate of killings by” blacks on blacks” have been well documented. It is all well and good to condemn, and rightly so, police brutality. But the “Black Lives Matter” now has the opportunity to show that truly, “Black Lives Matter” by taking the message to our ghettoes and neighbours. The message of the “Black Lives Matter” brigade should have no bearing on the skin colour of the perpetrator. If black lives matter, we need to start that clean-up operation with an in-house approach. We need to show that really, “Black lives Matter” by addressing the “black on black” violence that has blighted our communities for centuries. This is not the time for the pot to call the kettle black. How can we say that black lives matter when we kill one another on a daily basis? Or does it only matter if the shooter is Non-Black?
The American conscience needs an overhaul. It needs a moral, psychological and social bye pass surgery. Black lives really matter, but it is also up to us to prove and show that black lives matter by arresting the practice of “Black on Black” violence. Are we saying that it is ok for a black man to call his brethren “nigger”, but racist for a white person to say so? Sadly, it’s the kind of world we’re living in. I can think of a million better ways to celebrate a black American presidency, but a police induced regular visit to the morgue is not one of them.
The police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence (Sir Peel).
YES, BLACK LIVES MATTER: SHOW IT, PROVE IT AND WEAR THE T-SHIRT.