Once again, another major event has occurred that has caused global issues, albeit more centered in North America. Yes, I’m referring to the death of George Floyd by Officer Derek Chauvin, which has sparked mass protests, both violent and peaceful. (These protests, by the way, are clearly in violation of Covid restrictions; something that, it seems, some people have already forgotten.) A month ago protests were seen as disgraceful and disrespectful but now such gatherings are justifiable, because the cause is just. Because, of course, this is a black vs white issue right?
The attitude that allowed former officer Chauvin to stay on the force is the attitude that is going on now. The fact that laws, standards, and morals are almost never applied equally, and justifications for one thing over another will always shift to suit your beliefs, or that of the general narrative that you support. The real problem is that, consistently and with out fail, standards and rules are never applied equally; not just in the government but also in your own world views.
Example: You took the stance that anyone violating lock-down was selfish and foolish. But you now believe that it is okay to gather en mass to protest the death of George Floyd. This indicates that you are okay with mass gatherings only if you agree with the cause. This is a failure to apply a belief equally. It was NOT okay for governments to destroy businesses via lock-down and it was NOT okay that George Floyd died in such a manner. In both cases injustice was done, but your stance changed because of your belief system.
Let me take a step back for a second and talk about the event in question.
First of all, let me be clear, what happened to George Floyd was a disgrace and unacceptable. The officer had numerous complaints related to similar behaviour over the years, and should never have been allowed to continue on the force. The failure of law enforcement agencies to apply the law equally to themselves is the problem here! (Just like when politicians break the law and are not held accountable.) This is the underlying problem and has less to do with Black and White than it does with flawed systems. Why do I say that? Well, it is simple: There were other officers present who were not white, yet they did nothing.
This is probably because of what psychology calls “in-group favouritism” (or “in-group–out-group bias”). Meaning that, though the other officers may see something wrong, most will not do or say anything because they want to protect their group (the police) and not the outsider (the suspect).
Additionally, there are cases in which black police officers abuse their power, yet you don’t hear much about it. A recent example can be found here (a little research turns up many more), albeit this example did not end nearly as badly. But in our modern culture, if you don’t hear about it, it doesn’t exist right?
SIDE NOTE: As someone who teaches use of force the knee on the neck is a perfectly legitimate and necessary technique to control those who are resisting. George Floyd was NOT resisting, so it was not the appropriate technique. If you do use it, it should only be for a short period to elicit compliance. It must be used appropriately and requires appropriate training! It is, in my opinion, a very necessary technique. Unfortunately, due to lack of training and a general dislike of the technique (due to misconceptions) it is often not allowed even where it may be appropriate. With training, this technique can be applied with control, in fact, I had to use it at a party once, after several drinks, to subdue someone for a lengthy period of time. Of course, I controlled my pressure appropriately, and even after 20 minutes the would-be aggressor was fine. If I am able to safely employ that technique for a long duration, while intoxicated, how is it that so many police officers fail to? That is the question you should ask yourself.
So let’s address the issue of the “bad apples.” In the police or military there are always individuals who met the entry requirements but who should not be there; yet they are often allowed to stay. In-group favouritism is certainly one aspect, but it might actually be something more simple.
To explain, I will tell another one of my stories! YAY!
When I was in the military, my infantry unit was tasked with arresting a high profile target known for weapons smuggling. He was notorious for running to evade capture. The target was so high profile that special forces were suppose to pick him up, yet we were the only unit available. After briefing and prepping we ended up waiting hours and hours and hours to get the command to go. We ended up going at 2am or 3am the morning after our day of prepping. This means we were all exhausted. We did arrest the target, without resistance, and he was placed in our armored car. As per IDF prisoner transport procedures he was handcuffed and blindfolded. At some point a fellow soldier, whom I had great distaste for, began to strike our helpless captive. I told him to stop, and it got quite heated; this individual saw no problem with his actions, but I did. Most other soldiers were passed out from exhaustion, including the commanders in the front. The commotion of our argument lead to the commanding officer telling this individual he must stop, as his actions were unacceptable. The solider in question was kicked out of combat. Three months later, I heard that he was being let back in. I went to the Battalion Commander and protested his reinstatement. I was told that he was being let back in because they were “short staffed and needed more soldiers.” This is the crux of the problem in the military and police: There are never enough people or resources to keep the good ones in.
So who’s fault is this? Why, the public of course! In North America first-responders are often the first to have their funding cut (this includes paramedics and firefighters), as a result they are often under-trained and poorly paid. We all know it, yet no one does anything about it. Politicians continue to cut training, over work them, and allow SHIT HEADS to stay simply because they need the bodies.
While I am not an expert on US policing, I can say that, without a doubt, the standards of US policing in many counties and cities is not great. One of the reasons could be because they don’t want capable people in the police, as suggested by a court ruling saying you can actually be too smart to be a police officer. This is common, as they want people who don’t rock the boat. In addition, it is common to see out-of-shape or fat officers, something which I think should not be allowed whatsoever.
In Canada, while our standards are much better, the standard of training is also quite shameful. I have talked to many officers who say they do not feel they are properly trained in use-of-force or even in shooting tactics. They are often required to train in their free time and pay out-of-pocket to do so. Furthermore, many feel that learning something not approved by the force will get them into trouble, even if they recognize that techniques and tactics being taught on the force are out of date.
So, how do we fix this problem? Simple. Demand from our politicians that they stop overworking first-responders, stop underpaying them, and train them properly. BUT, with the condition that they maintain high standards in order to attract only the best applicants.
With that being said, most officers are good people, as can be seen in many cases in the US where the police choose to kneel or peacefully interact with protesters. Which shows that perhaps the belief that “all police are bad” is wrong, and rather the system they operate in is deeply flawed as it is being run by those who are more “politician” than “expert on good policing.”
As this is one of the biggest problems with policing, I find it difficult to say it’s simply a matter of Black vs White. Why do I say that? In general there are more non-Black deaths by police then Black, and often this involves Black, White, Asian, or Hispanic officers. An example can be shown in these stats breaking down police shootings by race for the last few years. This, of course, does not include deaths as a result of the use of unarmed force, but it is likely those numbers would show something similar.
Would it not stand to reason, then, that the biggest issue is not race, but poor training, poor support, and the continued allowance, by politicians and justices, to keep shit head police on the force? (Recognizing that the officer involved in the death of George Floyd was likely a racist, as indicated by his history of complaints, to then assert that all death-by-cops is due to racism is a stretch.)
Additionally, if you would like to pretend like the majority of violent crimes are not committed by the same groups of people in any given country, then you are not being truthful. Unfortunately, in America a large percentage of violent crimes are committed in/by the Black community, just as in Canada they are committed in/by the Native communities. These of course are very unfortunate realities, often resultant from to lower socioeconomic status and poor education, which as fellow humans we should seek to rectify (these are complex issues!) If you think addressing problem at all is itself racist, then I am not sure you are someone who actually wants to solve the problems; rather you want to virtue signal to make yourself look good to the Internet mobs.
If you are not sure what I mean by addressing the issues meaningfully, I suggest you listen to the recent Joe Rogan podcast with Kevin Hart (Kevin Hart being one of America’s most successful Black entertainers today and someone worthy of great admiration and respect). To paraphrase Kevin, in an attempt to help the Black community he partnered with J.P. Morgan Chase to help educate Black communities in financial literacy. (Which is a FANTASTIC idea is actually a step toward solving a systemic problem.) Rather than pretending that it’s “all the white man’s fault”, Kevin Hart is offering up a meaningful and realistic solution.
So, let’s talk about the violent protests. I am sorry, but this kind of violence and destruction is unacceptable, no matter your stance. The reasons is simple: Destroying your own communities, your neighbours’ businesses, and generally upending everything around you, is not a healthy use of the anger and will only harm you and your community in the process. I do fully acknowledge that there are many “bad actors” at play, from ANTIFA to gangs to, yes, actual racists looking to insight violence. These groups should face the full wrath of the law, just as the four police officers involved in George Floyd’s death should. It’s disgraceful when people who are looking to cause mayhem and destruction detract from a just cause!
If you are sitting here, as a white person, saying “it’s justifiable” then why are so many Black leaders, or successful people who are not being political, in general calling out for peaceful resolutions:
- Look at MMA fighter Jon Jones taking spray cans away from teens.
- Listen to rapper/activist Killer Mike (of Run the Jewels) saying “don’t burn your own house down for anger with an enemy.”
- Read about Lil Wayne saying to stop blaming all the police outright.
- Take in the now famous photo of several black protesters protecting a police officer who was separated from his unit in the middle of a riot (These people are heroes by the way!)
Another issue I would like to addess is this idea of “white guilt.” Personally, I don’t understand it. If you did nothing wrong, why are you feeling guilty? I mean, as per my above statements, the only thing you did wrong is to allow politicians to run subpar police forces. Yelling about it without solutions is not a solution to that problem! How about another story: A while ago I took a “Psychology of Genocide” course as part of my degree. We had several Holocaust survivors come in to speak with the class. A question was asked about forgiveness of the Germans of today. For me, as a Jew, the answer given was one I had heard before: “There is nothing to forgive.” What the speaker actually means by this is that the grandchildren of the Nazis did not do anything wrong, so why should anyone forgive someone for something they didn’t do? The class seemed to interpret this as “Wow, these people are so empathetic and forgiving.” The truth is, in most cases they definitely would not be forgiving the individuals who were the Nazis who tortured them. Contrast this with the Rwandan Genocide survivor who also spoke, who was “less forgiving” because many of the people who committed that atrocity were still alive. Do you see the difference?
This idea that you need forgiveness for something you did not do is a waste of your emotional energy. Instead, why not put that same energy into making the police better, and increasing education in these communities like Kevin Hart is. Because, I am sorry, feeling guilty and saying it’s okay for entire communities to destroy themselves is shameful and not a real answer.
Okay, so, if I have not offended you to the point that you stopped reading long ago, I hope that I have given you several ideas to consider. The simple fact, is that things are never Black and White. Yes, there are racists out there. And, no, White people are not the only racists, so stop with that nonsense. But here’s the deal; whether you are Liberal or Conservative (Canada), Democrat or Republican (US) the fact is, whether you realize it or not, everyone agrees one way or another that the status quo system isn’t working! Rather than stoking violence and hate, why not educate yourself on how things actually work, or what actually happened, before jumping on the social media mobs. Actually attempt to make a difference through a vote that results in a policy shift.
Police need better training. The standards of officers MUST be higher so that these types of incidents never happen. And some communities need help with education and poverty, allowing them to lift up their people so that problems are solved at their source. If we make it about race these issues will not be addressed and problems will not be solved, because hate and frustration will drive the conversation instead of a desire for change.
So I ask, are you going to do something meaningful or are you just going to rage tweet, post, rage smash, and hate?
PS. Can you see now that the main stream media is only interested in spreading hate and violence? They are no longer here to bring you news, but to entice you to click and comment; paying their bills so they can continue this vicious cycle. (See Killer Mike, above, telling CNN that “Karma’s a ‘mother’.”)
Written by: Jonathan Fader