On 7th July I woke up to the news that yet another black American had been murdered by police. This may seem callous but by this point I hardly batted an eyelid. People ask me if I’ve seen the video of the murder and I reply ‘which one?’
On July 8th I woke up to a media frenzy over the five dead police officers in Dallas in one of the most predictable acts of barbarism ever seen in the western world.
It’s almost too surreal to take in at this early stage but the worst thing is, I’m not even surprised. This has been bubbling in America for some time and, while what happened to what can only be assumed are innocent policeman, this is the result of a nationwide ignorance to the obvious racial inequalities.
Instead of addressing the problem head on it is much easier to pretend it’s not there. What we get is excuses after excuse. The president is black? What about black on black crime? They shouldn’t resist arrest then? These are not only pathetic excuses but dangerous excuses. They give an insight into the horrific levels of ignorance in the population.
Living in the UK (where we have our own problems of institutionalised racism), it seems common sense that a policeman should not kill anyone in any given situation. Unless the officer in immediate, life-threatening danger – which seems unlikely when the suspect is either pinned to the ground or sitting in their car with both hands on the wheel or whichever other excuse is given – there is absolutely no reason to deny someone their constitutional right to fair trial let alone their human right of being protected by the police.
There is also the reaction to the recent incidents on social media with the #AllLivesMatter being used extensively. The vast majority of users who tweeted #BlackLivesMatter are not black supremacists. These people aren’t saying that white lives matter. Obviously I agree with the concept of all lives mattering as each person should be treated equally (and people who used the tag should not be shamed and branded racists as has been the case), but it is neither the time nor the place to be using this line. Yes everyone’s lives matter but there is undeniably a white privilege and a cost of being black when it comes to police treatment in the US.
So it all comes back to two words. Gun control. Racism has been around for centuries in America and they are at least going some way in improving equality but there is still a refusal to move towards a more progressive nation and restrict guns. Again this seems common sense, as a UK citizen. Perhaps the shooting of police officers will be the wake up call for the Republicans because they didn’t seem to care much when the victims were the poor or minority groups. The police officers in America are heavily armed so, surely (I say naively), they can’t come back with the trademark response of needing more guns. The Democrat sit in was unsuccessful (in terms of political outcome) this time around but in light of recent events even the NRA will find it difficult to justify an anti-gun control stance. The Republican argument for more guns is to allow the militarisation of government organisations (eg. the police) but all this is doing is leading the citizens to arm themselves in defence against the police. This level of hypocrisy is one of the main blocks to social progression. It’s time the American political class actually did something about not only racism but guns and their widespread use because anyone who has campaigned against gun control now has the blood of five police officers on their hands.
The first step to racial integration and equality is recognising that every one of us is part of the same community and these senseless deaths should hurt all of us regardless of skin colour.
We must stand in solidarity with any police officers killed in the line of duty and to any black American killed as a result of police brutality.