Is De-Escalation Only For White People?
Enquiring minds want to know, plus further thoughts on the Chauvin verdict
The minute I hit send on my hot take on the Derek Chauvin verdict, I had some more thoughts. I summarized those on LinkedIn, and want to expand on them today.
1. Our big problem
Even with video evidence, we weren't sure of a guilty verdict.
As many of us know, Black people are often held to higher standards than their white peers. It says something about the system we live in that no Black person was sure that Derek Chauvin would be convicted of murder despite the evidence of all our eyes. That alone tells you that the system is broken, and I wonder whether it can even be fixed.
2. Our bigger problem
Even with a guilty verdict, we aren't sure of a long enough sentence.
There’s been a lot of talk about what sentence Chauvin might get, and I don’t know enough about the inner workings of the US legal system to have any idea. But I feel like whatever it is, it won’t be enough for the pain and the horror of George Floyd’s murder. And of course, it still won’t bring him back.
3. Our biggest problem
The system that allowed for the murder of George Floyd still exists, and Black and brown people are still being murdered by the police every week.
Since the verdict, several more Black and brown people have been killed by the police. That means the system isn’t anywhere near fixed.
One instance of accountability is not the same as justice.
Why Black People Can Never Relax
The murder of Ma’Khia Bryant is just one illustration of why Black people are still troubled and tired and can’t ever relax.
Here’s what happened. As news of the verdict came in, so did the news of the shooting of a Black teenager in city. By all accounts, she was defending herself from attack by waving a knife and the police were called to help her. She was shot 4 times and ended up dead.
I have not watched the video, but it appears she was no threat to the officer, so why did he shoot her?
Because many white people, and it seems white police in particular, are conditioned to see Black people as threats. That's why we keep dying at their hands.
The underlying narrative, in their minds at least, is that given half a chance, Black people will do white people harm. Sure there are cases where that can happen but the balance of probability is in the other direction - after all, who are the ones who end up dead?
As an outsider, I'd like to know the basis on which officers decide to shoot and why white men and women never seem to get shot even if they are carrying guns.
My friend Catherine Pugh Esq says it's a failure of supervision to ensure that the rules are applied fairly. She quotes chapter and verse in a pretty detailed guide which has plenty of actionable suggestions. Here’s part 5, Fix or Fire, but I suggest you read it all.
Your Mission, As An Anti-Racist…
So, what can you do to help change the situation? Let your local police force know you’re watching and do your bit to ensure accountability. Catherine Pugh’s guide is a great start.
The tsunami of Black killings by the US police can't go on. And Chauvin’s verdict can't continue to be an aberration.
Let there be consequences and maybe more Black people will emerge alive from encounters with the police.
What do you think?
Thanks for reading,
© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Cover photo courtesy of Canva.