The Sad Price George Floyd Has Paid To Expose Police Corruption

Demonstration board listing the names of black lives recently lost to police brutality in the US.
Photo by frankie cordoba on Unsplash

The question of whether black lives matter shouldn’t even be on the table right now. The questions we should be asking are how the system broke and how corrupt, exactly, are our police departments.

Anyone with half a brain cell understands that the colour of our skin doesn’t determine who we are, in the same way that anyone with a basic knowledge of history knows that the majority of white people have enjoyed a privilege denied to the majority of people of colour – something for which many of us are trying to make amends.

We can’t change history, but we can try and compensate for it.

George Floyd’s death has shone another light on the cancer in the US Police Department and the plight of the brave souls that are targeted by it. People of colour in the US have been scared for a long time, but this latest death has pushed them to their tipping point and triggered a united stand against racism and police brutality and corruption.

I will admit that as I write this post I fee scared too, in a different way. As a white woman of privilege, I’m scared about adding my personal thoughts about racism and injustice. I’m worried about using the wrong terminology; I’m worried that I don’t have the authority to write about the emotions of people of colour from my ivory tower. Most of all, I worry that my good intentions will be misinterpreted. And so all I can hope is that support, in whatever shape or form it comes, is welcome.

Fear and entitlement feed corruption in the police force.

It’s not like racism and corruption are endemic to the US, after all. The unmitigated fear linked to “difference” and the power struggles that emanate from it are worldwide struggles. As author Jordan P. Peterson states in his book “12 Rules For Life,” power play is part of the human condition that we see in many facets of life. There is a “dominance hierarchy in our society”, he confirms, although (unlike in the animal kingdom where dominance is a question of survival) there is also a level of chaos that our society hierarchies should never reach. And we are seeing that now, being leveraged by idiots like Trump.

Police brutality affects many groups of people – from people of colour to the LGBTQIA  community, and the mentally ill.

In spite of the rise of fascism over the past few years, I’m not surprised we’ve reached this point. I still cling to the hope that the tide of discrimination is turning, and that ultimately we will learn to live more harmoniously together. I see signs that our sense of compassion is increasing and while social media has its dark side, this reaction has demonstrated a positive side to its visual evidence of injustices like George Floyd’s horrifying death. The harrowing footage of his last minutes must help educate us about the unfair treatment of those less fortunate than us. They also incite anger, which is needed to effect change.

It is clear that the powers of the police are too great and there is not enough accountability for what they do with them.

Watch any TV show like The Shield, In The Line of Duty or The Wire and you’ll see how easy it is for bad seeds to abuse their badge and take matters into their own hands, whether that’s out on the streets or on the inside – the justice system’s inability to jail “bad cops” is proof of that – so how can we make the system safer?

Could any of the ideas below help reduce the number of black deaths?

  1. Could removing some of the pressure off police officers – and in particular financial targets that increase the danger of prioritising economics over life – make a difference?
  2. What if we vetted applicants more closely? Without wishing to stereotype, there does seem to be a “type” that enters the police force. Or perhaps it is the nature of the job that causes “compassion fatigue” – a numbing detachment that is common to many first responders (which I wrote about here).
  3. Or if there was more training vis a vis the risks of poor impulse control and the “pack mentality” in high emotion situations?
  4. How about we reduce the number of armed police officers? We know that having a gun increases the risk of its use, and we also know that the British have one of the most successful police departments in the world – and the majority of their officers don’t carry guns.
  5. And finally, if we worked out a way to encourage more female police officers to join, could we make it mandatory for a woman to attend every crime scene in order to reduce the threat of physical violence?

It’s easy to criticise the police, I know…

And would I do the job of a police officer? Not on your life. Every one of us has been in a flight or flight situation that we’ve handled badly and the police encounter those situations every day. No one wants to find themselves with that split-second choice between their own life and someone else’s. That is also why other vulnerable young men like Elijah Holcombe died. Read Kate Wild’s coverage of his “accidental” death in her book Saving Elijah.

Sadly, many of these cases point to a sense of entitlement in the police force that increases the risk of violence.

Australia’s own indigenous population is targeted in the same way as the people of colour in the US, which has led to an increasing number of them being unfairly incarcerated. There have also been countless deaths in custody that remain unaccounted for – even after lengthy investigations. And to my mind, the way certain police behave on the streets – bullying young people for minor breaches of the law such as drinking in public or possession of recreational drugs for personal use demonstrates an abuse of their powers. My own son was once strip-searched in the back of a police van for looking “shady” and because he had a warning for personal possession of a small amount of marijuana on his record.

It has taken many deaths to expose the corruption in the police department, and George Floyd is one of many martyrs to lose their lives for the lives of others. But what a price he has paid to expose the corruption of the people employed to protect us!

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Why We Hate Millennials

In the same way that we’ve had to forgive our parents for screwing us up, Millennials need to stop blaming Generation X for just about everything.

 

Or that’s what I used to think…, because I’ve not been averse in recent times to some millennial-bashing on this site; guilty of writing the odd scathing comment or two about this whining, entitled generation of our offspring from the personal experience of having two of them that STILL live at home.

 

But I’ve read a lot more about what motivates them lately and so I’ve decided to take a more balanced view. According to my daughter, they have been judged unfairly and do have some backbone with evidence of marrow. So I may have under-estimated them.

 

For example, their much-ridiculed desire to do the job THEY want, certainly emanated from us. Every generation wants the next generation to improve on what they did and ours is no exception. We Xers were the product of a shallow, capitalist era where we forfeited depth and sold our souls for material gain, so wisdom told us to advise them to choose carefully. With a greater understanding of what contributes to happiness now, the sharing of ideas and experiences, (thank you Internet), as well as the worrying increase in mental health issues, many of us are have very different views in middle age about what’s important in life, and a job that is fulfilling, (hence comes with limited stress), is a priority that is not to be mocked or ignored.

 

Equally, I can  appreciate that some of the functions of the Internet ‘aint all that’, even though these kids can have no concept of the pain of researching from books. Conversely, they have to deal with cyber-bullying and seeing selfies of their friends in their underwear at breakfast time.

 

Then there is their so-called fear of hard work. Now I’m not certain whether it’s a culture thing here in Australia or a Millennial thing, but NC went out to work younger than I did and the expectation here is that you work your way through further education. I, on the other hand, received a grant from the government for university, which allowed me to earn my degree the old-fashioned way, by drinking lots of subsidised beer and then working during the holidays to pay off the shortfall.

 

However… this generation does seem to moan a lot more than we did, particularly for a generation whose life has been so revolutionised by technology. My two Millenials moaned for years about the trendy analogue clock I bought for the kitchen because it had no numbers and neither of them could read it. What I initially thought was an ADHD-related problem turned out to be a Millenial problem because many of them can only read digital.

 

So is life that much easier for them, really? Or are they just different to us? Or are we jealous of them, hence all those accusations targeted at them about how they have it easy?  These are questions Scott Ness asks in his TED talk Who Are They And Why We Hate Millennials, the main gripe of our generation being the Millennials seeming entitlement of the extended holiday between dependence and independence while they find themselves.

 

NC gnashes her teeth with rage whenever I slyly forward her articles about the entitlement and laziness of her generation – typically as payback for all those bleats about poor WIFI, no food in the house, or the look of indignation when I mention that the dishwasher needs unloading or the dog needs walking. 

 

Remember washing up chores, anyone?

 

And I’m always on their case about their phones, being the hated breed of overprotective parent that continues to worry about their social communication skills even thought they are adults, because (call me old-fashioned), but I refuse to believe that you can build solid foundations of a relationship via text, memes or emojis.

 

Which elicits responses such as this:

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And reminds me about the uni/TAFE debts many of them are saddled with, (even though half of them probably shouldn’t even be at uni), and the impossibility of buying a property in such a crazy market bubble that has no sign of abating, which forces them to remain at home . Which isn’t much fun for any of us! And don’t get me started on the effect of text on their grammar…proven by the lack of full stop in the comment above, she says, starting a sentence with “and”.

 

I suppose we can’t really blame them for progress in technology because that has improved life for all of us – except for when they update…obviously. And who would we call to fix those tech problems if they weren’t savvy? At least in our day when we didn’t want to talk to anyone, we could unplug the phone and didn’t have to worry about being tracked down or stalked on social media.