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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?

'We must abolish the police!': Reforming the police means getting rid of them Show more Show less

This position believes that institutional racism is insidious because it is intangible. The police are an exploitative state tool for oppression. Without a total re-imagining of social security, we cannot have meaningful change.
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The police are inherently racist

Decades of police brutality disproportionately aimed at ethnic minorities has made one thing clear. The culture of racialised violence is too embedded within the police for change to come without a complete overhaul. Incremental reforms have failed. For too long public safety has meant protecting the interests of whites. We must create a system that protects all lives equally. That can only happen with the abolition of the police, and a completely new model of public safety. Proponents include the Minneapolis City Council and anti-police activists MPD15.
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The Argument

Whether or not all law enforcement is racist, the system they abide by is racist. The police exist because they are supposed to keep the people safe from crime. Yet, if one were to look closely at what law enforcement does, a different story is told. For centuries now, the police have done their job, maintaining law and order, but this is at the cost of allowing change to take place. The institution also has a hand in specifically abusing people of color, whose earliest forms of policing took the form of slave patrols in the 1700s [1]. How policing is done also contains racial bias. Often, the police patrol neighborhoods that are predominantly poor, neighborhoods whose residents are, for the most part, black. As a result of a more prominent police presence, any arrests made impacted black people the most. [2] In this situation, placement is crucial because it predetermines what races are being directly affected by policing. A large part of why this occurs is because of something called implicit bias, which is the act of harboring predisposed prejudices. [3] Since racism in and of itself is a set of predisposed prejudices, the decision to focus policing on these low-income communities aptly reflects law enforcement's own implicit bias.

Counter arguments

Another narrative disputes the idea that the police are inherently racist. According to some black conservatives like Larry Elder, there is no evidence suggesting law enforcement is targeting black people. [4] He posits that this discussion is at the forefront because of the media, claiming that they have a vested interest in the issue. Elder then connects this vested interest into further fueling the black community's anger for Democrats to use to their advantage politically. In short, saying that the police are inherently racist is a political tool used to garner favor with black voters.


Rejecting the premises



This page was last edited on Thursday, 24 Sep 2020 at 18:44 UTC

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