Last Friday morning, March 1st, Boulder police took aggressive action towards an unarmed black man. His crime: picking up trash from his yard. A squad of armed officers surrounded the man as he cleaned his property, many of them pointing guns at him.
Luke David Boswell | United Kingdom
There is currently a contentious debate over whether police powers, such as stop and search, are lacking or are too powerful in the United Kingdom. The intents and purposes of these police powers are to protect the public and enforce the rules of society. However, it emerges that those we trust with our protection may be liable for the deaths of innocents. Although these cases have become headliners raising important issues within the police force, is it fair to label the entirety of the police as liable? Or is it only the “few bad apples”?
However, these powers are subject to abuse, often times by white police officers. Cases occur where they routinely stereotype minority groups in stop and search. Evidently, this suggests that stricter regulations are necessary to control the extent of the police’s power. The idea of such regulations would be to prevent the formation of systematic racism and profiling.
Stop and Search
Stop and search is one of the police’s most scrutinized and controversial powers, due to the common occurrence of innocent people being stopped and searched. Under Section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, a stop and search are only permitted when the police have reasonable suspicion to do so. Code A (paragraph 2.2), mentions that a stop and search cannot take place when solely based on personal factors. Additionally, Code A states that the stop and search must be utilized “fairly, responsibly, with respect and without unlawful discrimination”. The goal is to prevent discrimination against civilians on the basis of race, creed, age, or appearance.
Despite these regulations, there are doubts that stop and search is on a tight enough leash. Out of the 300,000 stop and searches in England and Wales during the 2016/17 period, there were 4 stop and searches for every 1,000 white people, with 29 stop and searches for every 1,000 black people. This statistic shows that black people are 8 times more likely than white people to be the subject of a stop and search. Clearly, this demonstrates an inequality and perhaps a prejudice in who the police choose to stop and search.
However, statistics may be misleading alone. Due to government housing programmes, the vast majority of minority groups live in high crime and unemployment areas. This culminates a cycle of poverty, disillusionment with the authorities and subsequent crime.
No Reasonable Suspicion Necessary
There are, in fact, legal clauses for police to perform stop and search absent of reasonable suspicion. Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, states that the police do not need reasonable suspicion to stop and search in designated areas. A crime occurring in a specific area and the police having limited time to secure the area and all possible suspects in it would be an example of the practical beneficial use of this clause. However, this clause could also be an excuse to unjustly target an area of a certain ethnicity.
Section 44 of the Terrorism Act, states that random stop and searches in ‘the fight against terrorism’ have no need for reasonable suspicion. The majority of the abuse of stop and search has occurred under this clause. In Gillan and Quinton v UK, both of the appellants were stopped and searched near an arms fair under Section 44.
Gillan and Quinton were journalists partaking in a peaceful protest against the arms fair. It didn’t help that the police did not recover anything in this search. After this incident, the appellants bought their case to the European Court of Justice. The court held that the stop and search violated the appellant’s rights. Their ruling upheld that the search was unnecessary and Section 44 did not apply.
Where is the line?
There is a very fine line that police have to walk. Powers that are necessary for protection are also easily subject to abuse. How to ensure that police do not cross the line is a pressing issue for the United Kingdom today.
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By Austin Anderholt | United States
It’s time for a new solution to the police brutality issue.
In America, there are two sides to the issue of police:
The economic left, (mainly populated by Democrats) believes that there is a major police brutality problem in America. In general, their protests center around police shootings of minorities. They use slogans like #BlackLivesMatter.
On the other side, largely populated by Republicans, the group believes that the issue is unreal and unimportant. Many believe that such incidents are isolated, and those police officers are simply bad apples. They tend to use slogans like #PoliceLivesMatter.
Both of these movements are deeply flawed. A third voice is necessary in the police brutality debate: the libertarian side.
To believe that there isn’t a police brutality problem in America is to be blind. Repeatedly, we see police teams raid a house and kill dogs only to show up at the wrong house. So many times have we seen them follow unjust laws. This leads me to outright throw out the latter existing side of this debate. To say that these police are just “following orders” is the same logic that one could use to justify the participation of everyday South Africans in Apartheid.
The opposing view, however, often is equally abhorrent. While it does point out the terrible police brutality against African Americans, it fails to mention anything about all the other heinous crimes commit by police, such as no knock raids, arrests for victimless crimes, and many more.
Not only this, but both movements have an underlying form of hypocrisy. In many instances, those who acknowledge the injustices of police also are advocating for strict gun control, yet only want police to have powerful guns. On the other hand, the Republicans that cherish our right to bear arms in case government becomes tyrannical often are proud to submit to the tyrannical rule of American police.
In conclusion, there needs to be a third movement in reaction to police brutality. This movement must acknowledge ALL crimes police commit, not just crimes against race. Also, this movement cannot be hypocritical. It must realize that the right to bear arms is necessary to the security of a free state. It cannot be compatible with the Orwellian worship of the police state that is seen in right wing American politics. This movement is the movement of liberty.
By Greg Stephan | USA
Minorities are, in modern times, facing a lot of problems right here in the good ol’ United States of America. From drugs to being shot by police to financial instability, these issues are racking many, however not all, minority communities in America. Children are coming home to see their father on TV, shot dead by police. People are dying left and right from drug overdoses and gun violence. These issues are pretty much undisputed in existence, however, the real controversy lies in what the objective root problem is of this issue. Many people may believe this would be systemic racism within America, others may believe it’s the race of the minorities; however, under further scrutiny, neither example is the case at all.
One issue used to back up the belief that racism of both blatant and subtle forms within our government is the core problem would be minority-dominated school districts getting less funding, thus setting up students in America’s predominantly minority districts to be more likely to fail in life and underachieve. Racism within government and donating businesses is typically where the blame is placed, however, many fail to regard that most school districts get funding in accordance to the district’s own tax income, determined by the tax collected by the population within the district. In other words, it’s the fact that most predominantly minority communities are poorer and more crime-ridden than predominantly white communities that causes the low school funding. Now that we can knock racism out of the way for this issue, we can now dismantle the other extreme, for the true blame is no more on systemic racism than it is on minority races themselves.
The reason for the cause of the school district issue is not racism, nor it is the colors of the dominant races in a community. What it is, however, is the culture and popular (yet masochistic in the long-term) choices individuals are pressured to make. Poorer, crime-riddled, minority-dominated communities are more often than not filled to the brim with “ghetto culture”. This subculture heavily promotes the use of drugs, gangs, street violence, black-on-black crime, and disregard of individual responsibility through various forms of media and action. Because these drugs and gangs and other forms of street culture, individuals are showing to choose lives of crime, drugs, fraternization, and irresponsibility. Choosing getting high off of lean and having unprotected sex with your friend’s significant other over finishing college and having a career outside of crime is considered cool and has been normalized by these cultures. Making these decisions are what make people poor and put families in jeopardy. Now, whites typically don’t engage as much in these cultures and are, more often than not, not stuck in ghettos and in failing school systems, however some do in fact choose to go down the route of ghetto culture and become irresponsible and, in turn, poor; in conclusion it is not racism nor race that is the cause of this issue, moreover the culture of the individuals claiming to be oppressed.
This trend of the more commonly brought up issues to back a more progressive standpoint on the topic of minority struggle always connecting back to ghetto culture’s influence on minority individuals is seemingly getting more apparent as time passes. To name just a couple, the high rate of minority crime compared to white crime? Ghetto culture (which is more popular amongst minority communities) glorifies, normalizes, and popularizes crime not just in the form of art, but also in reality. High drug consumption/production/selling? Ghetto culture realizes glorified, normalized drug use, not to mention glorification of gang violence and gangs selling and producing drugs for profit. Poorer communities constantly on welfare? Ghetto culture promotes throwing individual responsibility out the window in favor of constantly living life as a hardass teenager who goes to parties instead of class (which coincidentally is also promoted through ghetto culture).
The most socially significant issue minorities are facing, one that simply cannot be left unaddressed is the problem of police brutality against minorities. Is the reason for cops shooting blacks and other minorities to their deaths always, without a doubt, racism? Well, no (and I will get to that part in a bit), however, there’s no arguing that a few of these incidents were, in fact, hate crimes. Dealing in absolutes, however, and saying that every officer-on-minority attack is unjustified or simply racism, would be factually inaccurate as not every police officer that has had to use his or her gun on a minority is inherently racist. The reason why we see so much “racist” police brutality on the media is because the media can easily make money off of tragedy and hot talking points; police brutality is one issue that is both. Blowing these issues out of the water and putting a political media spin on the entire deal is exactly what has gotten the majority of progressives to believe that racist police brutality is something that is seen 24/7 pretty much everywhere when in reality it really isn’t.
Why, one may ask, then would the rates of police brutality acted upon minorities significant in comparison to the total American racial minority population? Well, a good answer for that would be that minorities simply have more run-ins with the police, thus upping the chances of violence and/or brutality. If for instance black Americans, only make up 13% of the population yet commit 50% of America’s violent crime, then this is a far higher crime rate than white America, thus resulting in more run-ins with police by black folk and in turn, resulting in a higher likelihood of police brutality. This, in statistics, is called “The Law of Large Numbers”; a vague description of LLN would be that the more times an experiment or event occurs (in this case, minorities running in with police and committing crimes) the higher the probability of a certain outcome becomes (in this case police brutality against minorities).
The reason for such high crime rates resulting in higher likelihood of police brutality?
Ghetto culture promotes committing violent, self-destructive crime against not only other minority individuals but police officers as well, as previously stated several times. In conclusion, ghetto culture can be linked back to almost every issue currently facing minority communes. It’s a lot easier to blame others for your own failures to be up-to-par with individual responsibility, especially when your culture romanticizes and falsely justifies it. Minority communities in America need to focus on independently fixing themselves and reforming the mass amounts of toxic street culture that has become self-evident, not blaming whites for all of their issues. In the end, the real problem is not racism, nor is it inferiority in race, as we are all individuals with our own unique abilities and disabilities, most of whom being completely capable of fulfilling personal responsibilities. For an able individual can only be helpless in success and rehabilitation when a society around it blindly claims it’s “cool” and “normal” the way it is.