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< Back to question How do we think about institutional racism in the American police force? Show more Show less

On June 8 2020, Minneapolis City Council announced it would be dismantling its police force. In its place, they pledged to introduce a new model for public safety, free from the institutional racism that had plagued its police. The decision was unprecedented, and yet, it has been followed by similar moves across the US, for police budget cuts and investigations into how they are run. At the heart of this debate is the question of institutional racism: where it comes from, how it manifests, and how it can be overcome. Following George Floyd's murder, pressure has grown for perceived systemic oppression to be addressed. Others argue that this is a myth, and that police are being victimised for the ills of society. The way that people are mobilising around this question reveals the fundamental ideas that drive their perspectives. So, who are these groups, what do they stand for, and why?

'The police are not the issue!': The police should not be blamed for the problems of a racialized society Show more Show less

This position believes that the police are the standard bearers of law and order. Limited government is fundamental to protect individual liberty. Strong police are required to protect limited government. Whether institutional racism is real, or a myth, focusing on the role of the police is both misleading and counterproductive.
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The police are not defined by the actions of a minority

There is no doubt that racism exists in some police officers. But this unfortunate minority of cases should not be used to make generalizing points about a group that includes over 800,000 police. It is offensive to take the actions of a brutish few to tar the reputations of the many.
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The Argument

The police serve many purposes to ensure that our society can run with stability by protecting the public and upholding the law. They represent accountability, meaning that citizens are more likely to be law-abiding when they know there is someone to enforce consequences. When the accountability of the police themselves is called into question, it throws our entire system of law into question. However, using "police" as the inflammatory word instead of addressing individual officers only serves to spark panic and outrage, rather than correcting the actions of a corrupt few. The police in America are made up of a wide demographic of individuals from different races and genders.[1] While far from matching America's demographic breakdown, the presence of diversity in the police force helps to ensure that as many perspectives as possible are considered when responding to incidents. To generalize this group and paint all officers as racist or ignorant is to ignore their civil contributions and disrespect those who have died in the line of duty. It is true that officers who commit heinous acts are in the wrong and should be held accountable, but their wrongdoings should not reflect upon the hundreds of thousands of officers who put their lives on the line every day.

Counter arguments

Repeated instances of racial bias and excessive force seem to indicate that there are systematic flaws within the American policing system. While a majority of individual cops may not consider themselves or even act racially biased, the presence of these flaws in the system should tell us that the problem is bigger than merely a few "bad apples". The problem will not begin to resolve itself until we make fundamental changes to our justice system.


Rejecting the premises



This page was last edited on Tuesday, 22 Sep 2020 at 22:38 UTC

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