Monica P. Gomez
In the US, outraged youths and young adults react in the very same way, rioting and looting to police injustice. When rioting and looting occurs, there are ABSOLUTELY no winners. The community is left to recover as best it can. In this recovery process, the heart of the matter of police injustice may never truly be addressed.
It can be addressed only when police officer's are held accountable for their unprofessional conduct and lack of discretion. Based on what I have been reading in the UK newspaper and this and other UK riots, I surmise both the UK and the US police officers could greatly benefit from re-training that emphasises professional conduct.
Police officers should always be held to the highest standard of professional and personal conduct at all times and for good reason. As children we were told to obey and respect the "nice" police officer. Our parents said: "They are your "friends" and will help protect you from 'the bad guys'."
While I am appalled by the recent rioting and looting, which do not accomplish their sociological, economic and political objective of ending injustice, I am most appalled by police misuse of their authority and racial profiling when they stop and search youth on the street. Why is this allowed to happen both here and in the US?
If police continue to unjustifiably target youths based on their gang-like attire, sometimes called "hip hop" or "thug" clothing, with hoodies worn by youths of almost all races, how is progress to address the problem to be made? When arresting or questioning ALL PERSONS, especially youths, police should always ask themselves questions along these lines:
1) Am I questioning/detaining/arresting this person based on his/her race, clothing or because he/she looks suspicious?
2) Can I conduct myself in a professional manner while interviewing this person without prejudice, irregardless of race?
3) Am I executing a LAWFUL search of said person, their property and their vehicle?
4) Am I arresting this person based on LEGALLY obtained evidence?
5) Will I exercise my lawful duties as a professional to protect this person from intentional and malicious harm from myself, others or themselves?
Police officers should NEVER allow themselves to get so caught up in the moment and with emotions of prejudice and hate that they inflict injury on any person. They should police the community and themselves and MUST be held accountable for misconduct and that will take the community's efforts to see it through. Police officers should never think themselves to be above the law.
It is disheartening to see such youthful disregard for the police officers in Britain. Rioting and looting has occurred for decades as a result of what is deemed police injustice both here and the US. And when these community upsets occur, rubber bullets or live bullets will not correct the underlying problem. I don't profess to know the answer to this problem, and mishaps will happen in day to day policing, but the police agencies need to address individual, family or community inquiry and not disregard them as insignificant.
If a police officer conducts lawful or unlawful shooting of a person they need to hold a press conference to inform the general public of the unfortunate incident whether the investigation is underway or complete.
If the police agency is found negligent they need to admit it, apologise to the victim's family and the community and compensate for the family's loss and the officers responsible should be prosecuted.
It's the professional thing to do. People make mistakes and agencies make mistakes. Admitting the error of our ways and properly dealing with misconduct is the first step in the healing process.
* Monica P. Gomez is a British-based dual UK and US citizen.