Wednesday, January 6th, 2020, was a dark day in the United States. President Trump organised a “protest” that quickly turned into a riot. There were several key Trump allies who played their part in the insurrection that later took place in the capital, Washington D.C.. We can start with Josh Hawley, Mo Brooks, and Rudy Giuliani as the key instigators to the attack. However, there is one party that is now coming to light too — Capitol Police.
The Capitol Police allowed the rioters to enter the Capitol. The rioters stormed in and destroyed property and stole Nancy Pelosi’s computer. By any standards, that trespass and vandalism of federal property amounts to an attack against the United States. Further, five people died as a result of these rioters’ actions. The end result — the police failed to do their job. The reason why they didn’t do their job is very simple — skin colour.
Most, if not all, of these rioters were white. They came from the strength of the Trump base. It’s uncanny to think that the police, whose job is to protect people and property, allowed these rioters through. Let that sink in for a moment.
Now, after that has sunk in, take in something else — if these rioters were black and brown people, they would have either been shot or arrested for sedition on the spot. In addition, the President would have called the National Guard in to defend the Capitol taking into account that these rioters are attacking Federal property. Immediately, we can see the hypocrisy and clear racist view on law and order.
Sadly, this racist view permeates deeper and has been going on for too long. Countless cases like George Floyd or Breonna Taylor have gone on without justice. In both of these cases, as well as others, the white police officers aren’t charged or receive no/little penalty ending in no justice for the victim or their family. That’s alarming considering that America, and specifically the GOP’s mantra, is all about “law and order”. Let’s call it for what it is — white law and order.
This white law and order isn’t new sadly. In previous US President administrations, these fatal attacks happened too. They gained national spotlight, but many ignored it. Now, it should be going off like an alarm bell, because there is a fascist President in office. However, we now have the opportunity to right the wrong under the Biden Administration.
The Biden Administration comes in on January 20th, 2021. We have to see to it that that the scars from the past and the insurrection from this past Wednesday are lessons learned. We need to have a country where there is equal justice. The bottom line, and most fundamental thing to change, is white privilege must finally die.
For white privilege to die, a social and cultural overhaul happens followed by de-funding of the police in jurisdictions where standards aren’t met. To address cultural and social changes, training isn’t enough. There must be a serious, deep rooted change where being something other than being white is the norm, there is no stigma. And, this stigma also has to change with ordinary citizens.
There is no point in reforming the police without reforming people’s expectations and feelings. For example, a white person shouldn’t be afraid or uneasy that a black or brown person approaches them (which I have seen a few times). It should be that both people interact civilly. Equally important, a white person should not use the police as a tool to get rid of a black or brown person, because they feel “offended” or they feel “slighted”. That’s racist, unacceptable, and not what the police is for.
The time is now for a deep conversation and reckoning about the social issues surrounding policing. In particular, whites in America need to reckon and come to terms with that they aren’t the majority anymore. The social dynamics of society have changed in the last two decades. This change will continue in the coming decades. Politics needs to take this change on and adopt to it in a wholesome way.
We can take the above one step further in considering what is the real role of the police? In other words, is the police there to negotiate? How do they decide what they should do? Under what conditions do they arrest, charge, shoot, etc.? Who should be there, i.e. only the police or also a social work and/or psychologist? These are questions that come to my mind when it comes to policing.
I know Joe Biden has talked about having a psychologist or social worker present. But, that to me doesn’t seem like enough. We need the community to involve themselves with the open question being how involved the community’s citizens are in policing.
Or, should we have a community arrangement where the community polices itself by holding all citizens equally accountable?
The question of whether to allow a community to police itself becomes a valid question, if and only if, the local government adopts a social framework enabling stigma-free behaviour, help centres, and mutual accountability.
It’s up to the different levels of government to decide along with citizens. The work must start now, because America’s police problem is a national crisis that has finally brewed over. Time is of the essence for equality, freedom, and prosperity for all.