Realizations of the US Protests
The protests in the US have brought much awareness to the shortcomings of the US police system. Non-standardized and lack of training, an emphasis on applying force rather than de-escalation and outdated and problematic practices.
With the current police training and policies across many states, it is understandable that when faced with a tough situation, police officers will more likely resort to applying force, as they are more trained in and will get less sanctioned for it. If the police’s main purpose is to apply force towards fellow citizens and not being a positive and helpful contact to them, it is only a matter of time until it backfires.
Thanks to the awareness the protests brought, clear policies have emerged and some were even implemented rather quickly. There is some great research on http://useofforceproject.org/#review that details many solutions that can get implemented over the next months and years, but it also shows, that the racial bias is only one part of the problem.
That this is not simply about police officers being racist, but that the system they are trained in, rewards the use of force and is not transparent enough to wheat out the bad apples than can abuse their power.
We all can learn from these issues, not only to improve the US system, but the systems around the world as there are many other countries that have similar issues like the US has. Maybe some points from the list are handled better, maybe some worse, but it is on us to compare and see if our country is lacking with those issues.
But alongside educating the police, the public has to get educated about police procedure as well. We’ve seen enough out of context twitter videos that either show the display of force by the police or the protestors, but we don’t have the knowledge to contextualize the conflicts. Were the actions by the police justified? Why did they not intervene or why did they?
A really interesting idea would be a YouTube channel by police professionals who break down videos of the protests and explain why it was right or wrong to act like the police did in the clips. When it is appropriate to use force to break up a protest and when it is not. Not only would it make the police’s perspective on certain situations more understandable, it would also make it possible for the public to spot trouble and problems arising in peaceful protests.
Alongside understanding the police’s perspective, we also have to gain insight about the protestors and rioters. The most important point is the understanding that everything that is diverting from the core message is hurting it. Not only are peaceful protests more effective in achieving the change you want to see, but violence and especially looting are not defensible as a part of the protest.
That does not mean that violence isn’t necessary when dealing with dictatorships or authoritarian regimes, but just as it should be the police’s last option, so should it be for protesters.
Because both, violence and looting make it way easier for governments, as well as media to condemn the entire protest as not representative of the society and the protestors as thugs and criminals.
And just as the police system needs to implement certain policies, protestors need to understand and support the policies that are the most effective in solving the issues they are addressing. Chanting slogans and going on the streets is more than nothing, but if you understand the flaws in the police system and can explain possible solutions, not only your fellow protestors but also the police, you will have gained more than one supporter for your cause.
Voting is the last point to emphasize on for this topic. When the younger generations who are most effected by the current changes and policies do not vote and especially not vote in the regional elections, the older generations who do vote, have more voting power and can maintain the status quo or push for more conservative policies. And because politicians are getting elected through voting, they will cater towards the older, more conservative voters who do vote.
Voter apathy is one of the biggest factors when talking about regional and national policies. You can be as vocal as you want on twitter, but if you then don’t go and vote, you are missing out on your most important influence in modern democracies.