The two men widely known to have been killed this week by police were both armed, though particularly in the case of Philando Castile, it is largely felt that choosing to shoot the men multiple times in the sternum from a distance of approximately three feet or less went beyond what an objective, reasonable person’s reaction would have been.
However, many have noted that US history and current culture leads the US public in general, including police officers, to be less than objective in dealing with African Americans and other minority groups.* One way of addressing this issue has been to implement measures to improve various kinds of police training and monitoring, but the UN expert panel noted that “existing measures to address racist crimes motivated by prejudice are insufficient and have failed to stop the killings.” Indeed, so far this year, US state forces have killed nearly 600 of their own people, largely targeting minorities.
The problem now, says the UN group, “lies in the lack of accountability for perpetrators of such killings despite overwhelming evidence against them, including video footage of the crime, being present.”
Thus the next step to decreasing police terror, the panel suggests, is for the US state apparatus to increase the consequences officers face; to begin taking clear, fair, publicly visible accountability measures for officers who cross the line from protecting and serving into murdering and terrorizing.
Since, as the UN notes, this has not yet occurred, some in the US, both in popular culture and academia, have argued that there may be times when the public must apply consequences for police terror that go beyond peaceful protest.
Rapper The Game wrote in response to the killings by police this week:
*Horne’s work explores many of the historical foundations on which the US’s “structural and institutional racism” (UN panel) stand. Like John Kerry, Horne stresses that violence should always be a last resort, and that, indeed, the US peace and civil rights movements have, to their detriment, mirrored US culture in that they have grown increasingly insular, and have thus not in recent times fully utilized all of their options for peaceful protest:
Curtis Bunn, in the popular magazine Atlanta Black-Star, notes some other historical foundations that seem to remain relevant to killings by police in the US (particularly the killings this week):
Robert J. Barsocchini is an internationally published author who focuses on force dynamics, national and global, and acts as a cultural intermediary for the film and Television industry. Updates on Twitter. Author’s pamphlet ‘The Agility of Tyranny: Historical Roots of Black Lives Matter’.