In 1967 the Detroit riots happened as a direct result of institutionalised racism. At that time it has been recorded that of the 93% of white police officers that worked for the Detroit police department 43% of them were working in black neighborhoods but were deemed to be anti-black and 34% were described as prejudice. During the riots a number of people were held by police after an occupant at the Algiers Motel fired a starting pistol. During this ordeal the police officers, guardsmen and State Troopers beat, intimidated, humiliated and abused the men and two white women they were supposedly “investigating”. Also during this time 3 of the “suspects”, all of which were black men, were shot and killed. All three victims were unarmed. The officers involved were charged and faced court proceedings. The jury was of course made up of entirely white peers and as a result all the culprits were acquitted of any wrong doing. The victims in this event were not so easily let off as the repercussions of such a horrific ordeal left them scared and traumatised. This was in 1967 at the height of the civil rights movement and yet the similarities between 1967 and 2017 are striking and scary.
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50 years later and racist, prejudice and trigger happy police officers are still tried at the hands of a jury of predominantly white peers, the victims are almost always vilified and inevitably the police are acquitted of any wrong doing or criminal charges. In the United Kingdom there are striking similarities, in 1966 there was suspicions of bullying, violence and possible murder of a homeless black man at the hands of two white police officers. Although the officers were not charged with murder or even GBH ‘grievous bodily harm’, instead they were found guilty of ABH ‘actual bodily harm’ and served a prison term for this. As a direct result of this horrific incident the police started an organization called the ‘Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) which was created as an independent organization that would investigate any complaints against police or major incidents they were responsible for, the reality of this organization is more shocking when you delve into the members and their exact role. They are almost always ex-police officers that are in the IPCC and they have the power to determine whether or not police are charge or taken to court to answer for their supposed wrong doings, and sadly in the vast majority of these cases the IPCC chooses not to prosecute the police men and women involved. So it clearly demonstrates that in the United Kingdom our police are not answerable to the law either.
This is not something that was limited to the UK’s past, but more recently in 2017 a former Premier League soccer player was killed at the hands of the police when they used unnecessary force and tasered more than once which resulted in Dalian Atkinson going into cardiac arrest and passing. Clearly this is evidence of why we have organisations like “Black Lives Matters” and why Colin Kaepernick began his silent protest and why he wore his now famous “pig socks” to clearly identify his displeasure and the displeasure of so many others when police go bad or are unashamed of their outright disregard for the position they hold and the oath they took to serve and protect all. I can only imagine that Colin Kaepernick had this deep seated drive to openly share his inner disgust, hurt and empathy towards these victims and their families and rightly so, as Martin Luther King once said “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy” and despite the personal and professional repercussions of his actions Colin Kaepernick could no longer sit by and accept the harsh reality of life in America for people of colour. “People of color have been targeted by police. So that’s a large part of it and they’re government officials. They are put in place by the government. So that’s something that this country has to change. There’s things we can do to hold them more accountable. Make those standards higher. You have people that practice law and are lawyers and go to school for eight years, but you can become a cop in six months and don’t have to have the same amount of training as a cosmetologist.” (Colin Kaepernick, 2016).
Because as Martin Luther King also said “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” and clearly Colin and a number of other individuals and organisations are not prepared for their lives to end because of their personal fear or inability to stand up against the injustices that occur every day in our so-called GREAT NATIONS. Real freedom is to exist without the presence of fear.
At the time of the Central Park joggers case (1989), another rape had occurred in New York. The victim was raped and thrown off a roof, however there was little to no coverage of this in the media. Why? Simply put, it was because both the victim and perpetrator were of the same racial background. In the media the terminology used to describe the juveniles in this case were reminiscent of the Emmett Till era, the victim was white and the alleged attackers were black so it was a media lynching using words such as wolf pack, beware, monsters, mutants, sociopaths. Trump placed adds in three major newspapers calling for the return of the death penalty within the state of New York, he would not have called for the death penalty to be brought back had the young lady in the Central Park incident been black or Hispanic and raped by someone of the same racial background within an inner city in a socially and economically deprived area.
The mayor at the time Edward Koch said that this case would be a test to see if the criminal justice system worked. If in fact this were to be a test of the system, then the it failed, it failed these five young black boys. From the lack of DNA evidence that would tie these boys to the crime, to the obviously coerced confessions, to the falsified and inaccurate timeline created by police to place these boys at the crime scene. All this case successfully proved was that as long as you were black, the system could be manipulated in such an outrageous way as to punish you for something you in fact had absolutely no involvement in, with little to no consequences for those involved in.
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