powerful speech about police brutality

Hello! I know this isn’t my usual day to post, but I wanted to share with you a post that I saw on my Instagram feed today. This video, posted by Columbia University, shares one man’s take and reflection on his experiences as a black man in a world of police brutality. His name is Marquavious Moore. His words are extremely powerful and shine a light on police brutality and white privilege when it comes to the police. I hope you take the time to listen and reflect on this!

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN NIGERIA? #EndSARS

A demonstrator protests against Nigeria's Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Lagos on October 17 [Temilade Adelaja/Reuters]
A demonstrator protests against SARS, Nigeria’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad in Lagos on October 17 [Temilade Adelaja/Reuters]

The Nigeria Police was first established in 1820. Over a century later, the northern and southern police forces merged into the first national police force— the Nigeria Police Force. Later, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, commonly known as SARS, was created in order to combat armed robbery and other serious crimes.

However, since their creation, SARS abuses its power through unlawful arresting, harassing, kidnapping, theft, murdering, raping, extorting the very citizens they should be protecting. They go about profiling youth with nicer cars and clothes or are in possession of an iPhone by assuming that they partake in fraud and engage in crime to get their nice things. They accuse these people of being “online fraudsters” or of cybercrime because they own electronics and then demand excessive bail fees to let them go. They have been known to stop people, go through their phone, and force them to withdraw money from the ATM while threatening to beat/kill them.

Philomena Celestine, 25, had experienced the brutality of SARS first hand. In 2018, she and her family had been travelling home from her university graduation ceremony when their car was pulled over by SARS officers who forced her two brothers out. She recalled, “My four-year-old niece was in the vehicle but they cocked their guns at our car and drove my brothers into the bush where they harassed them for over 30 minutes, and accused them of being cybercriminals. They could see my graduation gown but that did not deter them. My sister was trembling and crying in fear.”

Activists in Nigeria have been protesting to #EndSARS for a while now. Since 2017, protests have been building momentum across Nigeria. These protests have resulted in the Nigerian government announcing that it would disband the unit. But this is the fourth time it has said this, and the other three times had not been executed in a way sufficient enough to deem it better than before. Restrucutring the unit, changing its name, and redeploying its officers to other units is not engough. Reform must translate into accountability and justice.

An article from the site Aljazeera says:

“In 2006 and 2008, presidential committees proposed recommendations for reforming the Nigeria Police.

In 2009, the Nigerian minister of justice and attorney general of the federation convened a National Committee on Torture to examine allegations of torture and unlawful killings but made little headway. In October 2010, the then Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, allocated 71 billion naira ($196m) for police reforms.

In 2016, the inspector general of the Nigeria Police Force announced broad reforms to correct SARS units’ use of excessive force and failure to follow due process.”

The amount in cases of unlawful killings and police brutality are growing and yet, not a single SARS officer has been found responsible for torture, ill-treatment of detainees or unlawful killing.

To help #EndSARS

  • Learn about the situation and educate others about the situation in Nigeria
  • Use the hashtags #EndSARS (this hashtag had been created in 2017 and has since caused the government to reevaluate SARS multiple times)
  • Be an ally to your friends who might be experiencing turmoil because of the events going on in Nigeria, whether it be by protesting or just being there for them!
  • Be aware of the things happening in Nigeria!!

WHO IS JACOB BLAKE?

Yesterday, August 23rd, a police officer shot Jacob Blake 7 times in the back in Kenosha, Wisconsin. While his 3 children were in the car watching. Attorney Benjamin Crump, a civil rights lawyer retained by Blake’s family, said Blake was attempting to de-escalate a fight between two other people when officers arrived at the scene, drew their weapons, and tased him. Currently, he is alive and in the ICU fighting for his life. However, he shouldn’t have been in this situation in the first place. His kids should not be traumatized from watching their own father being shot repeatedly in the back by the police. We must have an immediate and transparent investigation and the officers involved should be held accountable for their actions. We must demand justice. #JusticeForJacobBlake

Here are some resources to help demand justice for Jacob Blake:

  • Sign the petition calling for justice for Jacob Blake here.
  • Donate to the official gofundme for Jacob Blake’s family here
  • Donate to the Milwaukee Freedom Fund which is assisting protestors in Kenosha with bail funds here
  • Call/Email Kenosha state officials from this list created by @ankita_71 on twitter https://twitter.com/ankita_71/status/1297805867455307777

If you go to the next page, there will be footage of the whole ordeal. Please do not click if you are triggered by gunshots.

THE RACIST HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN POLICE

History of police in the US: How policing has evolved since the ...
The evolution of a police officer. Picture creds: Bettman & Anadolu Agency/ Getty

When people say abolish the police or ACAB, it’s necessary to know why exactly they are saying this. You might say, “but not all cops…” However, this is not what they are referring to. Rather, they are referring to the fact that cops uphold a racist and corrupt system that should be changed and abolished in order to create a new one.

The American police originally started as slave patrols and has since evolved into the American police force that we know today. It has set its foundation as racist and broken. It was created to protect white wealth at the expense of Black people, immigrants, and minorities. In the South, after slavery was abolished and slave patrols became uncommon, police took on new forms such as sheriffs who enforced segregation or groups like the KKK. In the North, police were used to control the increasing numbers of immigrant workers and would block labor strikes to suppress poor Americans.

In the 1800s, centralized white, male police departments formed in big cities like Boston, NYC, and Chicago. Springing from these police departments were patrols like Mounted Guards (now the Border Patrol) who maintained minority quotas and prevented illegal crossings. This was due to the increasing fear of labor uprisings and xenophobia. During Jim Crow, the police would enforce laws called “Black Codes” which upheld racism and segregation. The police would suppress protests during the Civil Rights movement, much like what they are doing right now. Black Americans would protest police abuse and racial profiling and would be met with violence–tear gas, high pressure hoses, and attack dogs.

Now, you might be wondering, would abolishing the police actually work? It has before! Several cities like Durham have implemented successful no-cop zones and harm-free zones where communities self-protect. Police abolition is not a new idea. It has been around since the 18th century. Additionally, the USA today spends approximately $100 billion a year on policing and a further $80 billion on incarceration. Defunding the police could result in more focus on education and health.

If you are still on the edge, I have included a story that I found on twitter about the corrupt police system. Adrian Schoolcraft went into the police force because he thought that he, along with the other police, would make the world a better place. So when he realized that some of his colleagues were lying and fudging numbers in order to meet their quotas, he reported them to his higher ups. The higher ups responded by saying that if he didn’t like it, then he could find a different job. Schoolcraft woke up on October 31, 2009 to the NYPD entering his home and forcibly interring him into a mental hospital. After he was discharged, he released the tapes of the conversations he overhead by officers about the faulty arrests, the clear issues in stop and frisk, and the general corruption of the NYPD. The Village Voice published them in their series “The NYPD Tapes.” The good cops are otracised, abused, and kidnapped by the “bad apples.”

https://www.villagevoice.com/2010/05/04/the-nypd-tapes-inside-bed-stuys-81st-precinct/

MESSAGING REPRESENTATIVES

This is a letter I had received in response to a letter that I wrote to my representative. Due to privacy reasons, I will not be disclosing who it is, but I hope this encourages someone to reach out to their representative and demand a change in the system, whether it be defunding the police, reforming the police, and passing laws to making sure that police should be arrested for their acts against innocent/guilty persons. We have a voice, and it is up to us to use it.

Dear {retracted}

Thank you for contacting me regarding the need for police accountability and reform.  I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.

The murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks have exposed the institutional racism that exists in our society and criminal justice system.  Tragically, these stories follow what we have witnessed in other instances of police violence for many years, across the country and in {retracted}.  We are in the midst of the latest chapter in what is a long, American story of racial injustices that have taken far too many black lives.  The pain people are expressing with peaceful protests is real.  I see it, and I hear the calls for change.  It is clear that we must do a great deal more to address longstanding and systemic racial injustices in our country. 

An important first step is to change the culture of policing in America and build trust between law enforcement and our communities.  That is why I joined Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) in introducing the Justice in Policing Act to fix and improve police training and practices, hold law enforcement accountable and help address systemic racism and bias to help save lives.  This legislation prohibits federal, state and local law enforcement from racial, religious and discriminatory profiling.  The bill also bans the use of chokeholds, mandates the use of dashboard cameras and body cameras, and establishes a National Police Misconduct Registry to prevent problematic officers who are fired or leave one agency from moving to another jurisdiction without any accountability.  Furthermore, this federal reform legislation incentivizes states to adopt laws mandating independent investigation and prosecution of officer-involved deaths, and when law enforcement violates an individual’s constitutional rights, police would no longer be given “qualified immunity” from being held responsible for their actions.  You can read more about all the reforms included within the Justice in Policing Act here: {retracted}

Of note, policies that govern law enforcement are also made at the state and local level.  If you wish to further express your views on these policies, I strongly encourage you to also reach out to your local and state officials.  You can determine who all your elected officials are online at https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

I believe that America has been awoken with the pain of carrying the wounds of racism for too long.  But we have also awoken with hope.  I see it with the diversity, both racially and generationally, of those peacefully protesting against racial injustice.  Please know I am inspired to do my part to bring about the racial justice we need in our country so that one day we may truly have liberty and justice for all.

Once again, thank you for contacting my office.  It is important for me to hear from the people of {retracted} on the issues, thoughts and concerns that matter most to you. If I can be of further assistance, please visit my website at {retracted} for information on how to contact my office.

Originally published June 19