The consequences for the police are usually marginal. So far, only one of the three police officers involved in the murder of Taylor has been fired.
Such incidents are what have provided fertile ground for the political movement that goes by the name Black Lives Matter.
The movement started in 2013 after the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin , and was a response to the racism that has plagued the United States for hundreds of years. The cause has long had widespread support among the American people, but after George Floyd was killed, support for the movement increased sharply. Demonstrations have been reported in all US states. Furthermore, the demonstrations have spread all over the world, also to Norway.
The movement has never been stronger than now, and this moment can lead to lasting changes, despite counter-movements using the slogans “All lives matter” or “Blue lives matter”, which refers to the police’s blue uniforms.
Many of the protesters remain calm during the protests. They carry slogans with slogans, they sing, they kneel and hand out water bottles and masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Nevertheless, many of the demonstrations end in tear gas, arrests and beatings.
Amnesty has mapped 125 separate cases of police violence against protesters between May 26 and June 5. Pictures and films of police beating and pushing seemingly peaceful protesters have spread like wildfire . In addition, US President Donald Trump has not been successful in reconciling the American people in a time of enormous division.
5: “Defund the police” – what does it mean?
In the wake of the demonstrations, there has been a concrete demand to “defund the police”, namely that the police forces should receive less funding. This is not the same as abolishing the police. Instead of trying to reform the entire police force from within, which could have required more funds, many Americans now want to cut police budgets.
The money that will be cut should instead be spent on sectors that are considered more constructive when it comes to reducing violence. This applies, for example, to more money for therapists, social workers, youth workers and drug workers. The goal is to be less dependent on the police if problems arise, and rather focus on prevention and services that have other tools for dealing with problems.
In addition, there has been a focus on how much education it takes to become part of the US police force. In Norway, as is well known, police training lasts at least three years. In the United States, a country located in North America according to politicsezine, you can get away with around nine weeks . In addition, it is not uncommon for police officers to either have a previous criminal record, or for previous complaints about behavior to be overlooked. Chauvin, the man who had kneeled against Floyd’s neck, already had 18 complaints against him when he was sent to deal with the situation that arose on 25 May.
It is worth noting that the United States’ liberal gun laws make it more dangerous to be a police officer. In most police killings, the victim was armed, which may have made it necessary for the police to protect themselves. However, the US police need a reform that focuses on situations where it is not necessary for the police to shoot. It is in these situations that lives can be saved.
6: Why now? And what now?
Initially, it was claimed that the commitment shown now is different than before. One thing is that the protests have received enormous support, both within the United States and internationally. Another thing is that they point to a greater frustration among the American population that has built up over decades.
George Floyd was the drop that made it overflow. He has become a symbol of all that is wrong with the American system, and his death was as if a dam had burst. There was a general dissatisfaction with politicians, with the system and a burning desire to do something about the inequality that characterizes American society.
Incidents such as Floyd’s death do not mean that there are no police officers doing a good job. This does not mean that there are no situations where the police have to use violence.
- The point, however, is that a few seconds of extra reflection time for police officers can mean the difference between life and death.
- The point is that longer police training leads to a police force that more easily sees nuances in a situation, and which can more easily make choices that do not end in an exchange of fire or other life-threatening use of force.
- The point is that more funds for drug treatment or social workers can lead to less crime.
- The point is that the United States has many problems to deal with and a long way to go.
This does not mean that the situation is hopeless – it also means that it is time to roll up our sleeves and take up the fight against injustice.
Now the United States has a unique opportunity to take advantage of a commitment that has not been seen for many years. The most important thing going forward is to continue the fight against racism, even after the media stops reporting and after the protesters no longer take to the streets. The commitment that has been shown after the murder of Floyd is unique, and it must be used if it is to lead to lasting change.