Opinion Piece By Dr. Noah Manyika May 29, 2020.
When policemen are killed in the line of duty, the investigations are swift, and the expectation of public sympathy is palpable and expected. The message that is sent is that no one will be allowed to get away with killing those who guarantee the safety of the public.
Over and over again, it has been proven that the safety of black men (and now black women too) in the United States is not necessarily guaranteed by law enforcement. As a result, any wrongdoing by police targeting black men does not get a quick response, and “due process” must proceed at snail pace.
The same law enforcement investigating the misdeeds of their own officers then pretend that the concerns of the victims will be taken seriously without people expressing their anger in protests. They forget that systemic injustice and thuggery has, since time immemorial, left those it victimizes with no other weapon except their anger, and that civic restraint has only resulted in their causes being ignored, and murderers in law-enforcement, the security services and in state positions of power getting away with murder.
This happens everywhere, in the USA, in China, in Zimbabwe, in Saudi Arabia etc.and must be confronted and condemned by people of every race, tribe and creed who claim to have a conscience.
It is important to redefine terrorism. Any act that is designed to make any section of the public live in terror is terrorism, whether perpetrated by a civilian or a man or woman in uniform.
The shooting of protestors exercising their constitutional rights to protest in Zimbabwe is an act of terror.
The killings of unarmed black men who are not resisting arrest and pose no threat to law enforcement in the US are acts of terror.
The killing of Jamal Khashoggi 2018 by Saudi operatives in Turkey was an act of terror. The brutal suppression of protestors in Tiananmen Square, China in 1989, and the 1960 Sharpeville massacre of 69 black South Africans protesting apartheid- era “Pass Laws” were not ordinary criminal acts, but clearly calculated to ensure that oppressed communities would live in terror and never raise their voices again.
Derek Chauvin, the police officer who had his knee on George Floyd’s neck for eight minutes, keeping it there for another three minutes after Floyd became unresponsive, has just been arrested and charged with 3rd Degree Murder/Manslaughter, a charge that suggests there was no intent to kill. The reality is that even if he is convicted, it will neither change the culture that lets people like him work in law enforcement, nor allay the fears of people of color who know that the problem is much deeper than any punishment the law prescribes can suggest.
The lesson is that none of this will go away by simply changing leaders without transforming the cultures and systems that nurture these acts. The message the increasing number of protestors on American streets even during this pandemic is sending is that they know that no election can solve what only concerted civic action can.
It won’t be solved by black or white leaders who simply want to win elections, but are not committed to the kind of change that only destroying these systems and cultures can.
The fact that these incidences have continued under both Republican and Democratic administrations is an indictment of the entire political system, and that nothing will change unless victimized communities hold the politicians who court their vote during election times accountable for the promises they make.
The universal and incontestable truth we must face is that those who look like you who promise to fight for you but never do after they get your vote, are just as bad as those who don’t look like you who either pretend to be sympathetic but are not, or those who openly encourage your victimization.
Is there not a cause?