Hundreds have walked out over protests against the Mike Brown Grand Jury non-indictment and now the Non-indictment of Eric Garner. However, this is not the central purpose of this post. I want to highlight the cross-border support and feedback and pose a very serious question, which is whose job is it to restore democracy, equality, and justice in America when those in power are not held accountable for their abuse of it? In situations and instances where a country has civil unrest and individuals are being oppressed by powers (who aren’t political allies, that is), the US has asserted itself as the righter of wrongs, the restorer of justice! But who will restore justice and eradicate oppression in the land of the free? The government? Thousands are protesting and even more are hearing the voices, rage, and fears of the African American community, but who among those in power can and will act for change against this system?
Throughout various institutions, including Emory, from across the borders in the UK, Japan, China, Mexico, Brazil, there has been an onslaught of support for the #blacklivesmatter movement and against the injustices we’ve watched unfold. Thousands are coming together and supporting lives and it is the decent thing to do after all. President Obama has stated that he wants the police force throughout the states to use more cameras, but we’ve seen an officer kill an individual on video, so one wonders what good police cameras will do. Many are continuing to petition for laws that protect citizens against police brutality. Amnesty International has condemned the police use of unnecessary force, and the UN has issued a statement. As people are filled with outrage and upset over these incidents, it’s good to remember all the people coming together and standing against the injustices on American soil. In a
seemingly borderless issue, who holds the power to fix this ? Does that responsibility fall in everyone’s hands?
The past day the U.S. Department of Justice released an outline for a new ‘use of race’ policy for the police force. It “builds upon and expands the framework of the 2003 Guidance and aims to dissolve “biased practices. Which promote mistrust of law enforcement, and perpetuate negative and harmful stereotypes”.
I suppose the question I’ve come to ask myself as time transpires and more of these cases reach the public eye and not just the local sphere is ‘quis custodient ipsos custodes'(Satires VI, lines 347-8). Which translates to who watches the watchmen? Even Plato pondered on what it means and how to have a powerful force held in account for their actions. For the longest of time, society has, generally, regarded the police as the moral good. Even if their actions are questionable, we assume they are acting under the moral good, and therefore their actions are forgivable. But what happens when the actions are unforgivable and the moral good is made hazy from internalized racism and biased practices? Who do we have in this day and age to hold the police accountable for their actions? Who holds sovereignty over these watchmen? Do you think that something like this document and policy can make a drastic change in how police handle stops and activities?
There are two parts of this document which bother me, as they seem to do the very thing the document is attempting to shun. Under discussion A, there is a section where crime rates are discussed. The diction actually harms their argument, if there is no conclusive evidence that “certain crime rates among certain groups” exist, then using the argument of ‘some’ biases and skews whatever neutral stance the wish to partake in. That portion sounded like they were trying to justify the use of ‘profiling’ based on inconclusive ‘statistical evidence’ that have long been argued because of overall discrepancies. Am I the only one to feel that way about that portion?
Finally, the portion where they state they may “use a listed characteristic in connection with source recruitment” such as in the case of a terrorist organization. Let’s not beat around the bush, the characteristic they are referring to is race/skin color and in most cases, they are looking for brown people. Do you believe that these policies truly change anything within the system, or are they temporary band-aids to quell the situation and appease people who ask for ‘change’?