“US erupts in black anger over clean chit to white cop!”- Times of India, November 25th, 2014.
A great headline which attracts the right number of eyeballs to the story! It also adds the ‘right’ mix of desired racist element to the incidence which will generate the ‘right’ level of disgust and anger amongst the readers, both in India and abroad.
Perhaps a ‘true’ depiction of what occurred in Ferguson, Missouri , when protestors, in a town which has Black majority, damaged both public and private property in a sudden rage over a decision of the Grand jury which disagreed to indict a White Police officer who was responsible for firing 12 shots on a Black teenager, leading to his death, whom he targeted for suspicious activities , in so called ‘self defence’.
However the depiction is ‘tainted’ but not true for the entire US or for that matter North America where racial conflict is something which the society has struggled with for decades and centuries.
If the story is followed closely, yes there is anger. And a lot of it! But it is directed towards the high handedness of a Police force which has started to look so much drunk in power that it does not even consider that the citizens who have given them these powers are the ones whose lives they are entrusted to protect.
There is justifiable anger over the acts of Police officers who not only berate citizens regularly but even can go to any extent including causing death at the slightest of provocation in the name of defending themselves.
And in all over US, this anger is not just there amongst the Black people but also amongst hundreds of White and visible minority protestors too, who are out on the streets raising their voices against the acts of Police.
True Blacks and other visible minorities face the brunt of unjustifiable Police action. It is natural because when the masks are out, we all are racists in some degree or the other and the Police force which is represented by White majority is no different from others.
Communities distrust each other in the name of colour, religion, race or even economic backgrounds. This has happened for decades and will continue in future too since that is the way we are conditioned right from our childhood. We do not need to look outside. Just look inside yourself and you will see the devil smiling back. Then why blame a White man for what we all are guilty of in our lives?
However when it comes to the Police force, the standards of conduct and the acts of violence are increasing regularly, especially in the last decade.
Perhaps it is difficult to understand in India but here in North America, Police is feared. And that fear is making them consider that they now have ‘Demy God’ pedestals from which they operate.
In USA many incidences have come to light where on the slightest of provocation, Police has targeted at, not the feet or hands of the person to make him immobile, but straight to the head. Unfortunately for reasons which are understandable, more such cases have become headline news when a Black boy, a teenager has borne the brunt of police folly, be it Darren Brown or Trayvon Martin.
Even in Canada many incidences have been in news from time to time, be it a mentally challenged person being shot dead when he runs out of the house charging or a woman crashing her car to death in fear when irresponsibly being chased by the Police personnel.
Many of these incidences are colour blind or to put it simply common to both the White majority or the visible minority. The brutal force deployed on common protestors in G20 summit in Canada is another such example. Yet what comes out in open and becomes big media news is when the it becomes coloured.
As an immigrant to Canada and running businesses like motels and gas bar and also representing the small motel owners when I had to argue with the Police force on their behalf, I have seen the condescending and downright derogatory behavior of the Police many a times. True it is also due to my colour but it is also due to my attitude of standing up to them for what I see is right which is what annoys them more as their power is not being feared.
Time has come when we the citizens, who have given the baton to them, restrict its use, especially when the baton is repeatedly being used to break our skulls. Putting body cameras on uniforms of Police men is one good option. Their training needs to be improved in man handling and not just manhandling.
But perhaps the most important of all is to make them realise that they are also a part of the community for which they work and cannot consider their acts on duty above scrutiny.
Dignity, honor and the right to live is as important to the Policeman as to the person he is looking down upon. It’s time this basic truth is rewritten as law for the North American Police force.