Backing up what I said today in the broadcast “Brooklyn Centre and (un) equal protection under the law”

Welcome to the blog !

  1. Here is a link to the ‘working discussion’ paper I referenced today -describing the research findings of a connection between the formation of police unions in various counties across the US, and a ‘significant increase in non-white civilian deaths at the hands of police during the late twentieth century’.

Click to access dp14208.pdf

And here is a more ‘official’ looking link to an NPR article featuring the principal author of the paper, discussing the findings and the implications for policing in the US. You might feel safer clicking on this one.

2. This is the article I referenced relating to the disproportionate risk of exposure to lead, if you are a poor Black child in the United States, relative to the risk of lead exposure if you are a poor white or a poor Hispanic child. As I said, we need to know these things, to give us the energy and resolve to make progress on these important fronts. And it’s not just about justice for the victims of entrenched, pervasive racism. Societies that allow systematic persecution of a subset of the population are societies with unhealthy levels of wilful blindness, and self-serving rationalisations.

When fake narratives exist, to prop up ‘rationalisations’ for past and persisting injustice, this create susceptibilities to emotionally manipulative tyrants.

Tyrants who exploit every opportunity they see…. to validate the confected prejudices of racist population subsets.

3. And here is the BBC article I referenced today – which lays out some of the evidence for a delayed causal role of lead in violent crime levels.

Nations have legislated for the removal of lead from petrol at different times. But without fail, 20 years later, a drop in crime rates occurs. This indicates that lead exposure during childhood plays a role in number of people with a predisposition towards committing violent crimes. Have a look for yourself at the arguments for and against the significance of lead as a factor in crime.

4. Today Duante Wright was killed during the course of a police stop in Minneapolis, not far from the town where George Floyd was murdered. Footage of the stop has not yet been released, but obviously, tensions are high, over what would seem to be yet another instance of police using deadly force disproportionately against Black citizens. It is alleged that police were trying to take Wright into custody after finding he had an outstanding warrant. It has been alleged that Wright got into his car to flee the scene and avoid arrest.

Here is a link to one article reporting these details:

There is a problem with the over-application of deadly force in response to suspect flight.

We can surmise that officers who have been conditioned to place a lower value on the lives of Black Americans are more likely to make the split second calculation that it is worthwhile firing a deadly weapon into a moving vehicle. What have they been conditioned by?

Conditioned? What might I mean by that? Trained, groomed, exposed to formative influences etc. One whistleblower former officer used a Medium article to allege that police training videos are heavily weighted in favour of featuring Black suspects employing violence against officers.

The piece is called “Confessions of a former bastard cop” and here is the link.

The former officer wrote ” I believe that if everyone understood how we’re trained and brought up in the profession, it would inform the demands our communities should be making of a new way of community safety. If I tell you how we were made, I hope it will empower you to unmake us.”

I would also like to note that many people seek refuge in manufactured rationalizations and justifications, which helps them to avoid emotionally confronting possibilities that racism exists, persists, and is a prevalent and broadly destructive problem in various ‘respectable’ organizations.

This is how abuse was propped up in the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, within Orthodox Judaism, the Boy Scouts, the gymnastics program at the University of Michigan under Dr Larry Nassar etc etc etc etc. Where respectability becomes an opportunity and an invitation for predators to flourish unimpeded. Wherever the balance of power, of ‘respectability’ is too heavily weighted in favor of authority figures.

This is my argument: When we begin to overgeneralize too positively about an institution, people predisposed to predatory, abusive, exploitative behavior see their chance, test the waters. Have they become a symbol? Have people transferred their reverence for the good achieved within an ‘institution’ to those employed within it in positions of authority? Then they have a cover. They have the protection of something bigger than themselves.

If they get away with something, they attempt bigger and bolder and worse crimes against their less powerful, less ‘respected’ victims. And those who don’t pay close attention to what’s going on become complicit, become ‘enablers’.

Although most Americans will firmly respect the outcomes of having a police force, and an organization to (ostensibly) protect members of the public from crime, we have to be vigilant, and avoid remaining ‘enablers’ of harmful levels of abuse, brutality, and violence.

The below passage is also from the Duante Wright article published by Yahoo. I am including it here because it is clear about what is publicly known about the death. It is not hesitant to describe what happened. We need more such reporting.

“During the police encounter, Floyd was restrained on the ground as Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. Despite pleas that he couldn’t breathe, Chauvin failed to remove his knee from Floyd’s neck as he slowly lost the breath from his body. He was later pronounced dead. His death was ruled a homicide by asphyxia or low oxygen.”

Thank you for reading!


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