Is it hate or fear?
Yes, I am using the “hate” word here, because I saw a report yesterday in which a Black leader in the United States used it at a rally decrying yet another senseless police shooting of a Black man. He mentioned the “racism” word, too.
“When will the hate and racism stop,” he cried out.
Given my revelation recently about the “hate” word, I found myself asking the opening question here.
My answer: We can’t generalize, though as I mentioned in the earlier post on the “hate” word, people on the receiving end of discrimination often feel hated. I totally get why some Black people feel hated by law enforcement officers.
And I think they really are hated by some officers. The George Floyd killing sure appears to have been fuelled by hate. The officer who killed him had no reason to be afraid. George Floyd posed no danger to him or anyone else while he lay on the ground with a knee on his neck.
But I’m not sure the recent shooting of Jacob Blake — shot seven times in the back — was fuelled so much by hate as it was by fear and plain incompetence on the part of the officer who did the shooting.
I would like to think that the vast majority of law enforcement officials — in the United States, Canada, the U.K., Australia etc.– are competent and compassionate.
There are obvious exceptions, though, and you have to wonder why those officers were/are allowed to wear a badge.
Therein lies one problem, I think: the law enforcement system may have noble objectives, but it is not screening its officers properly. I guess it is an old problem: there have been movies made about dirty cops on the take, for example.
Of course, there is systemic discrimination at many levels in society, but we are seeing the most violent part of it from the very people who are sworn to serve and protect everyone no matter their colour, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity etc.
It is inexcusable.
Maybe it’s time to rethink law enforcement altogether.
How can we ensure that officers of the law aren’t corrupt, racist, power trippers or just plain jittery nitwits who are afraid of their own shadows?
Yes, better training is the obvious answer. But how can we be sure every officer in every little burg is getting that better training — and won’t shoot Black men in the back or knee them to death out of fear or hate?
We, as a society, have to make this better.