Protest scene outside Police Headquarters, New Haven, Connecticut, May 31, 2020. Photo: Black Star News.
The young protestors offer some hope for the future by the diversity of the ethnic mix. The only way to impose fundamental change without violent social upheaval is for European Americans, the current majority population, to actively join the resistance to police brutality against African Americans.
But protests in and of themselved are only a necessary not a sufficient condition.
Here are some measures that must be affected:
1. There must be sustained pressure on police departments and elected officials, including mayors, governers and members of both houses of congress. The president of the United States is a lost cause flame throwing racist. Yet, even he as the nation’s chief executive, must be pressured.
2. Following killings the officer or officers involved must be arrested and charged just as any murder suspect would be. Derek Chauvin was arrested four days after he murdered George Floyd and only after people started burning buildings. Had the authorities quickly booked him the uprisings may not have occurred.
3. Following killings the officer or officers must be tested for drugs, alcohol, or other substances in the same way that civilians are subjected to after encounters, including fatal ones, with police.
4. The rules preventing the authorities from immediately interrogating police officers after incidents, including encounters with civilians that lead to deaths must be abolished. In New York City it’s called the 48-hours rule. This time provides officers the window of opportunity to manufacture false narratives in order to subvert justice. Officers that become criminal suspects shouldn’t need two days to get legal representation considering most police officers are members of powerful unions.
5. When convicted of the egregious killings, in addition to imprisonment, the criminal should forfeit pension.
6. Police departments’ public relations units should be revamped after review by state attorneys general. Their primary job apparently is feeding false information which some corporate media are eager to run with–after all, it’s the words of the establishment –whiteness, as Amy Cooper infamously demonstrated to Christian Cooper in Central Park–versus those of a Black person.
When Eric Garner was killed on July 17, 2014, the first article about the incident published in The New York Times was based on a spin job by the NYPD. It referred to Garner’s weight as over 300 pounds. There was absolutely no mention of the chokehold. Under the headline “Staten Island Man Dies After Police Try to Arrest Him,” the Times story read: “A Staten Island man died on Thursday after police officers tried to arrest him on the street not far from the Staten Island Ferry, the police said. The man, Eric Garner, 43, went into cardiac arrest as he was being placed into custody around 4:45 p.m. on Bay Street, across from Tompkinsville Park, the police said. He was pronounced dead a short time later at Richmond University Medical Center on Staten Island…”
Blackstarnews.com published an editorial condemning the Times for parroting the NYPD spin job. That editorial was eventually deleted from our website by some hacker. We’ve always wondered who was behind that hack. (We’ve also wondered who was behind the deletion from our website of several other editorials including one critical of the NATO war on Libya–which war the Times fully supported–and one critical of the KONY2012 U.S.-coordinated propaganda campaign).
7. Had the video not emerged showing Pantaleo lynching Garner with his arm, the NYPD initial spin job would have carried the day. Pantaleo might have gone on to kill a few more Black folk. Police departments must not get away with disseminating false information.
How many executions of innocent Black people by police officers like Pantaleo and Chauvin throughout the U.S., historically, have been buried by such spin jobs?
8. Police Departments need to be structurally reformed. Why should African American communities be policed by European Americans who live in the suburbs and come with an “us” versus “them” attitude to work? Such disposition contains the seeds of inevitable confrontation. Under those circumstances, the officers are often regarded as enforcers of European American privilege. How many African American police officers are recruited from Harlem or Bed-Stuy to police White suburban neighborhoods? Let communities be policed by people who live in, or hail from, those communities.
9. Police officers must be able to anonymously report to attorneys general (District Attorneys work too closely with police departments) evidence about officers who are racist or belong to white supremacist organizations–or they must be able to report them to newspapers committed to exposing police brutality.
10. Prosecutions must be handled through state attorneys general or special prosecutors appointed by the governors. Pantaleo never faced criminal charges for lynching Garner because the district attorney on Staten Island botched the case as he was a Republican who was eyeing his eventual run for Congress. Similarly, Darren Wilson, the officer who killed Michael Brown never faced justice when the prosecutor at the time, Robert McCulloch, whose father had been a police officer killed in the line of duty, botched the case.
Yes. The protests are a good start to demand change. But concrete measures, including those proposed above, must be carried out.