Jun. 11, 2020

Police and minorities is a complex problem

We have many people demonstrating and protesting “police brutality”. Systemic discrimination is being blamed on our police forces, when our police reflect the society they protect.

There are some officers who act out outside what is expected. They prey on “undesirables” and employ unwarranted force or other tactics to discourage their victims hoping they will move elsewhere. That is a discipline problem not a racism problem.

Police officers are not called to where there is no crime, confrontations, or domestic violence. The lowest ranks of society are multi-coloured, multi-ethnic, multi-racial and of every age and sexual persuasion. In many cases, a minority member has had multiple dealing with the police and harbours accumulated resentments. Officers attached to a precinct that includes high crime parts of a city can develop a bias against the people he or she must deal with daily.

Contending that police officers do not abuse their authority is as ridiculous as stating that they all do. Some people cannot be trusted with power. That human failing is not confined to police officers. It runs through our society - empowered people turn into tyrants whether they are bureaucrats, professionals, politicians or in private enterprise.

We are a strictly classed society and look down on those on lower strata often unconsciously. The lowest level is ‘undesirables’ – the homeless, the addicted at a low ebb, panhandlers, petty thieves, and others struggling to exist in a world they find hostile. 

When our urban flotsam collects in an encampment whether in a park, on a riverbank or under a bridge, we eventually decide they are a menace and insist that they be removed. So, who do we call? Even if city employees do the dismantling, they do so under police protection.

We discuss the need for affordable housing endlessly and fail to find a solution. The solution is political and requires changes in urban planning. Instead of requiring that every new development include a five per cent affordable housing element, we build expensive tracts that make provisions for parks, schools, community centres but no affordable housing element. The only affordable housing is in the oldest neighbourhoods which become the seedy parts of a city. We create the ghettos within our cities through a combination of bad planning and NIMBY (not in my back yard).

People who invest a half million or more in a home do not want less expensive homes in their neighbourhood. Their argument is that affordable housing decreases the value of their investment. That is why we do not have more affordable in-fill housing. Then we have the nerve to accuse the police of systemic discrimination.

We can do a better job of weeding out the bullies and tyrants in our police forces. However, our criminal justice system is in disarray. We do not have nearly enough courtrooms, support staff, judges, or prosecutors to dispense fair and unbiased justice in a timely manner.

The backlog is enormous. Under mounting pressure, members of minorities are often dealt with irresponsibly. Prosecutors encourage an accused to plead guilty to a lesser charge to clear a case. That is not justice. Those who cannot afford legal council can wind up in prison when they may be innocent.

     We have prosecutors who have acted unethically to secure a conviction, but we are only aware of a few high-profile cases. What about others who are innocent but are found guilty because a prosecutor did not disclose evidence that would allow the defence to cast doubt on the Crown’s case? That is not a policing problem, but the victim, his family and friends will blame the arresting officers for actions out of their control.

We play an active part in systemic discrimination and need to deal with that. We insist that we are not discriminatory or racist, but our actions indicate otherwise. Blaming discrimination on our police forces is avoiding a problem rather than solving it.

Minorities have a role too. Playing the discrimination card and role of perpetual victims is not helpful. We must all work from a respectful position. There is no visible minority that does not have tens of thousands of success stories. That is a good place to start in developing more positive relationships. We must focus on what elements are working and how they can be improved. Acrimony and finger pointing are destructive forces that are getting us nowhere.

We must cast informed votes in the next election.
Political parties are not honest during an election.
If you do nothing, nothing will change