When Will Institutional Racism End?
My exchange with a person defending the shooting of an unarmed Black man
I am writing this after finding out about the shooting of a Black man named Jacob Blake and I am furious.
He was said to be breaking up a fight between two women when police officers arrived on the scene. In a video which is circulating on the internet, he is seen to be walking away from police officers who have their guns drawn. He appears to get into the driver side of his car with his two children in the back and one police officer grabs his shirt and shoots him seven times in the back without cease or hesitation.
My immediate thought is that despite this man potentially having a previous violent record and however much of a threat the policeman believed Blake to be, shooting someone seven times in the back cannot be constituted as self-defence. This becomes attempted murder. There is no way that a policeman can shoot someone continuously and use excessive force and believe that he is simply disabling the subject to protect himself and others. If he truly believed Blake was a serious threat, he could disable him in many ways that would not potentially kill him.
Now Blake’s two children have to live the rest of their lives with the trauma of watching their father be brutally and inhumanely shot multiple times.
I posted a tweet, expressing my disgust and heartbreak at the circumstance, which received backlash from one person. I will share with you the exchange between myself and this person who objected to my views:
That is the tweet that I posted and here is the reply, that I have censored to protect the tweeter’s identity:
Absolutely horrified at his response, I rebutted his reply:
Here is a prime example of naivety to institutional racism. This person cannot understand that using unnecessary and excessive force is completely horrific, whether the victim had a prior record of violence towards a police officer. If we adopted his way of thinking, surely it would be okay to shoot all criminals in prison, in the fear that they might re-offend?
The truth of the matter is that this situation would probably not have happened in a white middle-class neighbourhood to a white man with prior convictions.
What happened here, was a clear case of prejudice and a policeman ‘supposing’ that a person posed a threat and therefore took it upon himself to use brute force. In shooting Blake seven times, this police officer took Blake’s life into his hands. Whilst it may have been a gut reaction to a precarious situation, that gut reaction was one of inherent racism. The fact that this policeman’s gut reaction was to shoot seven times without ceasing despite the distress and pleading of other civilians on the street, shows that he felt Blake’s life was not worth saving.
I am no expert on police training, however, I am pretty sure that they are taught to disable and disarm in an appropriate way in order to protect the safety of others. If he truly thought that Blake was reaching for a gun to shoot him, he could've shot him and in the foot or used the force of himself and his colleagues to grab Blake’s arms to stop him reaching from a weapon. In no shape or form, would any moral person think that shooting a person an excessive amount of times could be constituted as self-defence.
The reason that this problem with institutional racism is being perpetuated is that people like this Twitter user who decided to rebuke my opinion are still naive to reality. They think that these occurrences of police brutality against black people are one-off instances. How many times do situations like this have to occur before people get that this is a very real and very prominent problem?
Jacob Blake was not shot seven times because he had prior convictions, the policeman shot him because he is black and his inherent racism told him that Blake was a serious threat and that his life did not matter. If his life mattered to the policeman, he would’ve handled the situation in a completely different way- one that would’ve disabled Blake not left him with life-threatening injuries.
To end the awful occurrences of police brutality against Black people, we must realise that our world has a problem. We cannot move forward until everyone is enlightened to the horrors of institutional racism and the inherent prejudice within many people. People like the Twitter user that defended the shooting of Jacob Blake, prove that there is still large disbelief that racism is prominent and still unfortunately happening.
This is not a singular instance, that policeman was not an anomaly. This is happening time and time again which proves that there is a pattern. Once we all realise this, we can work towards change and create a world where innocent black people can be approached by a police officer without fearing for their life.