America on Fire

Nimbus

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The death of George Floyd sparked protests and riots in major cities


The officer was putting his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than 8 minutes, even though Floyd was handcuffed and pleaded that he couldn’t breathe. The officer’s action was clearly unjustified, and was a display of callous indifference toward another human being.


Here’s an opinion from a former police lieutenant:

 

Puspawarna

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This situation is tragic and horrifying. I can't bear to watch the video of Floyd being murdered. But I did watch the video of the police arresting the CNN reporter covering the subsequent riots. FFS!

Apparently a lot of the violent unrest is being instigated by white supremacists who love the conflict and are chomping at the bit to start a race war in America.

Honestly, it makes me ashamed to be an American.
 

dafluff

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There is some very disturbing escalation of violence going on, not an insignificant part by the police.

I've seen footage of police shooting people on their own front porches with rubber pellets, shooting/arresting clearly identified journalist, shoving an elderly man who needs a cane to the ground, shooting people with pellets who are clearly not doing anything or are in anyway a danger, etc etc.

Years of turning the police into paramilitary organizations, along with coddling racist/unfit officers is once again coming to a boil. This time fueled by the economic hardship due to the pandemic, and escalated by the current occupant in the White House.
 

Nimbus

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Militarization of police is a known issue. Today a policeman is very rarely referred to as a “peace officer”, he’s a “law enforcement officer” or LEO for short. You may think it’s the same thing functionally, but the tone and spirit are very different.



Many cities use their police force as means to generate revenue through law enforcement. I find it highly ironic that in USA the speed limit is often zealously enforced because municipalities collect the fines, while in Germany the Autobahn has no speed limit.
 

vocalneal

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^ Because many police are ex-military. As we know it is actually a different skill set.

Now happening as well in UK. Army downsizes, squadies don't have many job opportunities.
 

R Cameron

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Many cities use their police force as means to generate revenue through law enforcement. I find it highly ironic that in USA the speed limit is often zealously enforced because municipalities collect the fines, while in Germany the Autobahn has no speed limit.
Not just fines, "civil asset forfeiture" is a profitable abomination of state power.
 

R Cameron

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^ Because many police are ex-military. As we know it is actually a different skill set.
I read a comment a National Guard serviceman who is being called in to suppress the rioting gave to the media. He said he was scared to go into the situation because they haven't been trained for dealing with civilian protest and using non-lethal force.

And yes, many, many police are ex-military. The terrible irony to this is that the rules of engagement, necessary use of force requirements, deescalation procedures, and consequences for violating those regulations, are all far more strict in the military than in the police force.
 

Bad_azz

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To balance all the negative policing here are some police officers publicly stating their abhorrence for racist/bad cops- kudos
 

ChrisTex

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This is from a former teacher I had and respect. He posted this on Facebook.

'I Back the Blue and So Should You

Six months ago, I got a phone call from Prof. Lawrence Sherman, director of the Graduate Program in Applied Criminology at Cambridge University, UK. I was expecting a call. An interview with a professor is part of the application process. I wasn’t expecting to hear from the boss, however. The conversation went well. Happily, my bid for admittance was successful. I am now a student at Cambridge University, where I’m taking an advanced degree in Applied Criminology and Police Management.
The call with Dr. Lawrence came after I’d submitted a paper entitled: “The Proclivity Toward Legitimacy.” It’s an Ivy League sounding title, I know. “Proclivity” speaks of interior dispositions and impulses; and “legitimacy,” in the context its use in criminology at Cambridge, is akin to ethics, values and virtues. At issue in the paper I’d submitted, and of interest for the research I’ll conduct for my dissertation at Cambridge, is ethics, police officers and police training.

I’m not altogether sure that race was the issue in the unfortunate death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Of the four officers involved on scene, it is my understanding that one was White, another Black, another Hispanic and another Asian. Because I don’t believe in trial by news clips on CNN, I’m minded to hold back judgement till an autopsy comes back, and a Grand Jury and Jury sees and weighs all the evidence. Though I’m game to hold off till then, I do believe there are some poor training issues worth addressing.

Because I direct a police academy in the Dallas-area, I’m more naturally disposed to think of training. Training-related misjudgments include an officer applying pressure in vicinity of a man’s neck and throat while he is in custody. That other officers didn’t act to correct that, similarly, is a serious breach of judgement—and a training-related issue. Police are trained in the police academy to not do, participate in or allow this sort of thing. The values are enforced in field training after cadets finish in the academy. A man is now dead because the training evaporated. Tragic.

I personally believe those officers and their supervisors should be held appropriately accountable for their actions and inactions. Speaking of “believe,” in no uncertain terms, I do not believe that police are inherently racist, or that policing itself, as a vocation, is systemically racist. There are bad apples in every bunch. That said, I honestly believe police officers in the USA to be some of the finest people on planet earth. Every police officer I know is saddened by George Floyd’s death and the events in its aftermath. I believe that police will come out of it the better, and that policing, itself, will continue to make progressive strides forward, so officers can better serve the communities we protect with our very lives. I back the blue and so should you.'
 

R Cameron

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There are bad apples in every bunch.
The "bad apple" idiom gets used every time in these high publicity police abuse cases. But don't forget there's a second part to the proverb; "One bad apple spoils the bunch."

Those defending the police use the "just a few bad apples" response to assert most police officers are good, but we can see the full proverb come prove itself as we watch one sadistic police officer crush the life out of a helpless man and 3-4 other officers simply let him, while a crowd literally begs them to stop killing him.
 

ponyexpress

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Not entirely sure if the whole issue of police brutality against African Americans comes down to a few bad apples within the corps. There seems to be a pattern of killing unarmed black people in the US. Eric Garner, Stephon Clarke, Breonna Taylor, Amadou Diallo and many more were unarmed citizens and gunned down by the police. I think part of the problem is that there isn't any acknowledgement that ingrained racism within the justice system in the US might contribute to police brutality towards African Americans.


 
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harryopal

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I regret to say that the history of police - Aboriginal relations in Australia are also pretty horrendous. From the 19th century when police basically operated extermination teams to wipe out Aboriginal resistance the pattern of behaviour has traditionally been very unjust and not only with police acting against Aboriginal people but through the whole justice or injustice system with Aborigines receiving much harsher penalties than penalties given white felons.

Deaths in custody has been an ongoing issue accross Australia despite various commissions of enquiry. Today relations have improved and there are many police involved with Aboriginal communities who do have a well developed understanding of and sympathy for Aborigines. But unfortunately these are in the minority within police ranks.

It was a great thing to see some American police officers coming out to voice support for the "black lives matter" demonstrators.
 

Nimbus

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This is from a former teacher I had and respect. He posted this on Facebook.

'I Back the Blue and So Should You

Six months ago, I got a phone call from Prof. Lawrence Sherman, director of the Graduate Program in Applied Criminology at Cambridge University, UK. I was expecting a call. An interview with a professor is part of the application process. I wasn’t expecting to hear from the boss, however. The conversation went well. Happily, my bid for admittance was successful. I am now a student at Cambridge University, where I’m taking an advanced degree in Applied Criminology and Police Management.
The call with Dr. Lawrence came after I’d submitted a paper entitled: “The Proclivity Toward Legitimacy.” It’s an Ivy League sounding title, I know. “Proclivity” speaks of interior dispositions and impulses; and “legitimacy,” in the context its use in criminology at Cambridge, is akin to ethics, values and virtues. At issue in the paper I’d submitted, and of interest for the research I’ll conduct for my dissertation at Cambridge, is ethics, police officers and police training.

I’m not altogether sure that race was the issue in the unfortunate death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Of the four officers involved on scene, it is my understanding that one was White, another Black, another Hispanic and another Asian. Because I don’t believe in trial by news clips on CNN, I’m minded to hold back judgement till an autopsy comes back, and a Grand Jury and Jury sees and weighs all the evidence. Though I’m game to hold off till then, I do believe there are some poor training issues worth addressing.

Because I direct a police academy in the Dallas-area, I’m more naturally disposed to think of training. Training-related misjudgments include an officer applying pressure in vicinity of a man’s neck and throat while he is in custody. That other officers didn’t act to correct that, similarly, is a serious breach of judgement—and a training-related issue. Police are trained in the police academy to not do, participate in or allow this sort of thing. The values are enforced in field training after cadets finish in the academy. A man is now dead because the training evaporated. Tragic.

I personally believe those officers and their supervisors should be held appropriately accountable for their actions and inactions. Speaking of “believe,” in no uncertain terms, I do not believe that police are inherently racist, or that policing itself, as a vocation, is systemically racist. There are bad apples in every bunch. That said, I honestly believe police officers in the USA to be some of the finest people on planet earth. Every police officer I know is saddened by George Floyd’s death and the events in its aftermath. I believe that police will come out of it the better, and that policing, itself, will continue to make progressive strides forward, so officers can better serve the communities we protect with our very lives. I back the blue and so should you.'
My biggest problem with “I back the blue and so should you” is the unwritten but implied statement that you should always support the police no matter what, and you shouldn’t support the “black lives matter” movement.

Of course I support good policing, but if the police have always been good lately, we wouldn’t be here.
 

ponyexpress

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I regret to say that the history of police - Aboriginal relations in Australia are also pretty horrendous. From the 19th century when police basically operated extermination teams to wipe out Aboriginal resistance the pattern of behaviour has traditionally been very unjust and not only with police acting against Aboriginal people but through the whole justice or injustice system with Aborigines receiving much harsher penalties than penalties given white felons.

Deaths in custody has been an ongoing issue accross Australia despite various commissions of enquiry. Today relations have improved and there are many police involved with Aboriginal communities who do have a well developed understanding of and sympathy for Aborigines. But unfortunately these are in the minority within police ranks.

It was a great thing to see some American police officers coming out to voice support for the "black lives matter" demonstrators.
Yep agree with this. We have more cases of the Aus police racially profiling Indigenous people up north in NT and WA. David Dungay's case resurfaced as his desperate final plea was 'I can't breath', exactly the same words that came out of Floyd.

But I found it really upsetting that some still think of this incident as not related to systemic racism in the US police. If this is a case of few bad apples, then why the mistake repeats itself? Saying that a few bad cops made a grave mistake and asking people to support the police is totally missing the point and shift the discourse from racism to the lack of training and bad cops.

In 2014, a sociologist, Josh Correll released a paper about the police and racial bias. Using a computer simulated shooting method, he finds that while the police succeeded in avoiding shooting unarmed civilians with all race, they tend to shoot black suspects more than any other race.

"Police officers, however, differ from laypeople in several ways. They were faster, more accurate and less biased in terms of the errors they commit. But racial bias was not eliminated among the officers. Rather, it emerged exclusively in response time. Police, like undergraduates and laypeople, were faster to shoot armed Blacks and faster to choose 'don't shoot' for unarmed Whites."

 

dafluff

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Because I direct a police academy in the Dallas-area, I’m more naturally disposed to think of training. Training-related misjudgments include an officer applying pressure in vicinity of a man’s neck and throat while he is in custody. That other officers didn’t act to correct that, similarly, is a serious breach of judgement—and a training-related issue. Police are trained in the police academy to not do, participate in or allow this sort of thing. The values are enforced in field training after cadets finish in the academy. A man is now dead because the training evaporated. Tragic.
Respectfully disagree that this is a training issue. Not kneeling on a man's neck, a man who has been completely subdued and is completely harmless, for nine effing minutes, is not a training issue. It's a being a complete scumbag of a human being issue. A human being who should not have been in a position of any authority, and the fact that the police still employed this man in such a position is a systemic failure.
 

Nimbus

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When they say “black lives matter”, it’s short for “black lives also matter”, not “only black lives matter”. I really dislike the grammatical cheap shot of “all lives matter”, because it assumes the second meaning.
 

Puspawarna

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I’m not altogether sure that race was the issue in the unfortunate death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Of the four officers involved on scene, it is my understanding that one was White, another Black, another Hispanic and another Asian.
That's a surprisingly naive remark from someone who is apparently rather thoughtful. As pony express would note, racism/sexism/other forms of oppression often involve the marginalized group internalizing the oppressors' views. A black cop might be just as likely as a white cop to assume, even if unconsciously, that a black man is guilty of something and deserves lesser treatment.

Skin color doesn't provide immunity against racism any more than the fact I'm female automatically means I believe women are the equal of men in average math ability. If I were a school math teacher, I might unconsciously call on boys with questions more often, spend more time explaining difficult concepts to boys, and so forth.
 

ponyexpress

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As pony express would note, racism/sexism/other forms of oppression often involve the marginalized group internalizing the oppressors' views. A black cop might be just as likely as a white cop to assume, even if unconsciously, that a black man is guilty of something and deserves lesser treatment.
Ah someone is familiar with my way of thinking. That might partially explain why the other officers didn't do anything to stop Derek from kneeling down on Floyd's neck.
 

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