Other than at airports, or in hostage situations, we in the UK aren’t used to seeing our bobbies on the beat armed.
Granted, times have changed. Where once it was a case of being armed with a whistle and a truncheon…
…we’ve witnessed the addition of stab vests, radios and various other bits of ‘kit’.
Nevertheless, our English bobbies still generally look like English bobbies. We pride ourselves on the fact that the overwhelming majority of our bobbies aren’t armed.
It’s always a shock, then, to read or see yet another story about deaths, at the hands of the police, in America in particular. Yes, I know there’s a substantially different culture in the US, with the ‘right to bear arms’, and so on, but policemen opening fire on unarmed civilians is still a jaw-dropping moment for us. Certainly, in a split second, the American policeman has to make a decision as to whether, due to the availability of firearms, someone is carrying a gun. In the UK, the balance of probability is that someone isn’t carrying a loaded weapon, so different rules and police culture apply.
While our policemen are far from perfect, and there is clear statistical evidence of black teenagers being 28 times more likely to be stopped by the police for no legitimate reason than white teenagers, something that points to something of a racial profiling occurring (or, indeed, flat-out racist approach to our own citizens), our young folk will almost certainly walk away from the encounter with the police.
In America, it’s different. That gun-culture, that sometimes naked racism apparent in the police, means some people won’t get the chance to walk away.
There have been some high-profile incidents in recent years. Ferguson, Missouri, being one that was particularly shocking. Michael Brown was just one of many.
These high profile deaths have spawned a group called Black Lives Matter. Of course they do. Each human life is important. A culture of white-cop-kills-black-teen simply cannot go on, and has gone on too long. A culture wherein a predominantly white police force are, or are perceived to be, racist must end.
Black Lives Matter.
An infographic from the Black Lives Matter website.
The issues facing many black people in the US isn’t just about police brutality or racism either. There’s a wide range of issues that need to be addressed for a better, fairer, more equable society. And this applies in the UK too, lest you think I’m having a pop at the US in isolation.
Black Lives Matter.
What I wasn’t aware of, until recently, is the number of black females are also the victims of the police. Not all are firearms related deaths, but too often the actions of the police are questionable.
Part of their action was to protest topless in order to also bring attention to the fact that society tends to focus on black women’s physical bodies except when those bodies are victims of violence. They also wanted to let women reclaim their bodies in a public space.
There is still something immensely powerful in a statement made involving nudity. It remains one way in which people’s fight is suddenly made much more visible in the media.
We’ve previously expressed our view that #blacklivesmatter, and I’m happy to do so again today. We need an equal world. We need a world without police brutality or racism. We support the BlackOUT Collective’s protest and join the call for a more equable world.