You are under arrest!

by thierrycharles21 on May 16, 2017 - 3:26pm

Enough is enough. We must stop the police to behave like they do, we need a revolution to place things in order and stop police brutality, racial profiling or abuse of power.

 

We live in a society where we need law enforcers to keep the peace everywhere. Without them, the law would not be considered as important as it is now. When you face a thief or a criminal you can dial 911 but who do we call to protect us against the police? That’s right, I am asking who can protect us from the ones who are supposed to protect us from criminals. This is a question that I have been wondering about because of many events that we witness in the media with the police shooting unarmed people, abusing of their power or targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on their race. Here is an article by the Washington post that counts the toll of police shootings last year, in the United States by 963. This is a real issue, innocent people die by the hands of police officers something must be done to change the situation. After a semester of getting involved in this subject, I decided to do something concrete about it to make a difference in the society.

 

First, I passed this whole semester reading about news of police brutality or abuse of power. I concluded that it was enough and that I should do something about it to make a change in my community. To do so, I searched for police brutality organization on the web and I came up with a couple ones such as  la Coalition contre la Répression et les Abus Policiers or the Forum contre la violence policiere et l’impunite. In general, these organizations have the goal to raise awareness about police brutality and make people aware of their rights during an altercation with a police officer. I contacted both organizations to offer my time in volunteering but neither of them needed any volunteer work. I didn’t find any updated organization in Montreal other than these two. All other websites linked with police brutality hasn’t been updated in the last 5 years and more. I find it really disappointing from a city like Montreal to not have enough volunteer opportunities for this cause. After having a hard time trying to find a volunteer opportunity, I came up with my own idea to remain to the problem. I decided to interview visible minorities from my school (Champlain College) about their opinion on police brutality/racial profiling and if them or anyone they know already been affected by it.

 

In this video linked below (Link to video) there are 5 people aged between 18 to 19 years old currently studying at Champlain College. I prepared a list of 6 questions starting with broad questions and getting narrower toward the end. After the candidates introduced themselves, I asked if they trusted the police in general.  None of them told me that they entirely trusted the police, most were undecided with others that completely didn’t trust them. One student with Arab and black parents even quotes “I don’t trust them because they don’t trust me, simple as that”.  The results of the first question immediately show that police do not have a good image from the eyes of these young students. This is kind of “funny” in a sense because police officers are the ones who are supposed to make the citizen feel safe and they act as the opposite.

 The second question was to know if people were aware of police brutality in Montreal. The issue of police brutality in Montreal compared to other places in the US incomparable. In the US they are much more cases than here in Montreal. Stats from the guardian shows that Canada has an average of 25 fatal shooting a year compared to 72 fatal shootings only in California in 2015. This fact could mislead people to make the think that this is not a problem present in their city. Two out of the 5 students said that they don’t think that police brutality Is a problem in Montreal but racial profiling was definitely one present.

 Next, I asked if they are anyone they know already been affected by racial profiling/ police brutality/ police abuse of power. None of them told me that they had been brutalized by the police but a couple of them shared a story involving racial profiling or police abusing their power. According to the article published in 2013, titled; the Facts about Racial Discrimination in Canada, black males living in Toronto are three times more likely to be carded by police, no matter where they live.

After, I asked them which famous cases of police brutality that happened in the United States or Canada had more impact on them. They responded with the case of Rodney King, Martin Brown and Eric Garner. Shortly, according to Tony Castro ‘news article posted on the Dailynews, the case of Rodney King date from the 90, he was involved in a police chasing and when he finally got out of his car, he got beaten by multiple police officers resulting in fractured bones and bruises. After the incident, the officers were fully acquitted of their act by the court thus creating the notorious 1991 Los Angeles riots which nearly caused 1B in propriety damage. Read more at http://www.dailynews.com/article/ZZ/20110302/NEWS/110309525

 The case of mike brown involves a young unarmed black man aged of 18 years, shot by the police because he stole a pack of cigarette at a convenience store on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson. The officer in charge of the arrest felt threatened when the teen charged at him so he opened fire. The article states “the facts became muddied and the same witnesses said that Brown held his hands up before moving towards the officer, according to a Justice Department report published earlier this year”. Read the rest at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/michael-brown-shooting-what-happened-in-ferguson-10450257.html

 The last case was a New York black men who died after the police put him on a choke hold. His last words; “I can’t breathe” contributed to many protests that followed his death. Here is a news coverage video by NBC showing the events https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0Y3FH9Nb3I

Next, I asked the students whether police brutality or racial profiling was a social or a racial issue. Most of them taught that I was a mixture of both and they regard it as a chain of causation.

 For the last question, I asked them if they had any solutions to stop police brutality or racial profiling. The most recurrent answer is to inform people about it and eradicate racism in the mind of police officers. Some said that it is a lost cause if the minorities don’t stand up for themselves against the police.

Finally, I learned a lot from this social experiment by learning how the people really feel about the police. Fortunately, I realized how many shared the same opinion as me, that there is a real problem here and something must be done. I wonder how this survey video will be perceived in later years, will the situation change. Will it stay the same?

Don’t hesitate to share your view with me below in the comments section.

About the author

I am a Champlain student currently in my second year. I like sports and music