Donald Trump signed an executive order making changes to some tactics the police use with suspects that could have effects in the long term. However, the tragic situation that the United States is facing right now calls to urgently implement immediate measures.
A reevaluation process for law enforcement officers as well as of their record is among those rapid impact measures. Both in the case of George Floyd, killed in Minneapolis on May 25, and Rayshard Brooks, shot dead in Atlanta last weekend, his murderers had a history of alleged abuse and complaints.
In the meantime, police chiefs in several jurisdictions must identify officers who have already shown violence and have been called the attention for that. In such cases, and at this time when the outrage of communities and protesters is at its peak, they should be preventively removed from the streets.
If, for example, signs shown by Derek Chauvin, the former police officer accused of the murder of George Floyd, had been addressed in time, the outcome might have been different. And if Garrett Rolfe, who shot Rayshard Brooks several times in front of a fast-food restaurant in Atlanta, had been separated from the police after an earlier incident, also linked to the improper use of his firearm, we would not have seen the images of this other very serious attack against life.
Nor does the President’s executive order delve into the structural causes of racism, or the educational process in terms of social equality, or into the integration of African-American communities, which today, as always, are marginalized and have a legitimate fear of falling into the hands of a group of white police officers.
Es difícil dudar de que, en las mismas circunstancias, pero frente a una persona blanca que se encontrara ebria, el trato de los uniformados hubiera sido mucho más sosegado y condescendiente que el que Brooks recibió.
The reaction of those arrested is the typical panic reaction to a hostile attitude from the beginning, as shown in the videos that have been made public. It seems difficult to think that, under the same circumstances, but in the case of a white person who was drunk, the officers would not have treated that person gentler than they did with Brooks.
Systemic racism, at its core, is not addressed through changes in law enforcement philosophy and tactics, or through the training of young applicants who are now in the academies. On the contrary, focusing exclusively on the police can have the effect of neglecting other subtle areas of social coexistence, where the real ground for prejudice and rejection lies. In other words, racism is not a problem that comes from the police.
One death after the other, following the same pattern, in which police officers act without measuring the consequences, ending with the lives of people who have been reduced and handcuffed or who were not even armed, shows a state of lack of control, or worse, of dehumanization of institutions. We cannot forget that one of the first deaths in this terrible wave of crime also happened in Georgia, at the beginning of May, when an ex-police officer and his son shot at young Ahmaud Arbery, who was only exercising in his neighborhood.
It is urgent that the government and citizens go into a period of open reflection, and above all, that authorities assume the strong commitment to stopping these cases at all costs. As we have already seen, just one case can destroy not only hearts but also cities.
Democracy is once again called into question.