A Broken System

Updated: Jun 3, 2021

By Shahane De Silva | Sri Lanka

Ahmaud Arbery, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and George Floyd. These are the names of only a handful of African-American people who had their lives taken by a system that is supposed to protect them.

Why have communities of color in America experienced such tragedies at the hands of the police? Is it because the system is broken? Can we really chalk it up to racism? Racism is definitely a big part of the problem, but it’s not the only one. The policing system in America has much to do with why these atrocities keep happening.

Police in America killed 1,099 people in 2019. 24% of those killed in 2019 were black people despite being only 13% of the total population.

No words describe how atrociously communities of color are affected by their interactions with law enforcement. Regardless, change is possible. America needs a systemic change directed to its broken policing system.

Since they risk their lives everyday, police officers play by a different set of rules compared to the average individual. However, the ‘rules’ are ridiculous. Separate legal and political frameworks shield cops and give them special rights when defending themselves. Police officers are often trained to be ‘warriors’ rather than guardians of the community.

‘Warrior Policing’ takes a fear-based approach to policing that prioritizes officer safety over community safety by conditioning trainees to view all encounters as inherently dangerous. Combine warrior policing and the violent stereotype that black people are subjected to and you realize why the problem still exists.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the worst of it. The biggest problem is the lack of accountability faced by police officers . 99% of killings in America by police officers from 2013-2019 have not resulted in officers being charged with a crime. This lack of accountability stems from the powerful Police Unions and the ‘Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights’ (LEOBOR) protecting bad cops.

Let’s talk about Police Unions first. Police Unions are incredibly powerful organizations that protect any cop in order to protect its numbers, so it can maintain its influence. Plenty of bad cops get away with misconduct because of the protection that union contracts provide them.

Want to know how ridiculous police union contracts are? You can read about it here.

Police Union contracts are so powerful that any reprimand for cops is nearly impossible. Unions protect police officers by requiring police departments to erase misconduct records periodically, and allowing officers accused of misconduct to forfeit sick leave or vacation days rather than to serve their suspensions. That is only a fraction of their ‘perks’.

Then there is the infamous LEOBOR: the protections of a union contract in the form of a state law. Sixteen states have versions of the Bill written into their statutes.

With these protections for police officers how are they ever held responsible for their actions in the line of duty? How can we expect anything different to what has been happening without systemic change?

When you protest the death of Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin and so many others taken away by an unjust system; protest for systemic change.

In the words of African-American NBA Basketball Star Dwyane Wade,

“The racial profiling has to stop, the shoot to kill mentality has to stop, not seeing the value of black and brown bodies has to stop.”

The views and opinions expressed in this entry are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of The Zeitgeist. Assumptions made in the analysis are not reflective of the position of any entity other than the author(s). The Zeitgeist does not verify the accuracy of any of the information contained in the entry. The Zeitgeist is not to be held responsible for misuse, reuse, recycled and cited and/or uncited copies of content within this entry.

#racism #brokensystem #civilrights #america #policebrutality

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