Enough is Enough

After+George%27s+Floyd%27s+death%2C+protesters+flooded+38th+Street+in+Minneapolis.

Flickr provided by Lorie Shaull

After George’s Floyd’s death, protesters flooded 38th Street in Minneapolis.

Last May, George Floyd was murdered after police officer Derrick Chauvin put his knee on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill. On March 13, 2020, Breonna Taylor was shot and killed after police officers fired into her apartment while serving a no-knock warrant. In the last month, Daunte Wright was shot dead by police officer Kim Potter after a traffic stop gone wrong. Due to its large number of police brutality cases, its oppressive history and its ineffectiveness at dealing with the root causes of crimes, it is clear that the institution of policing has failed us and must be abolished.
According to the Washington Post, about 6,200 people have been shot dead by the police since 2015. Out of those 6,200 people, 42 percent of those who were shot were not armed with a gun, and 23 percent had known mental illnesses. Black people are killed at 2.4 times the rate of white people, and Hispanic people are killed at 1.8 times the rate of white people.
During the mass protests that took place in many cities in response to this brutality, the police were quickly mobilized and responded with more brutality. According to the New York Times, police forces used tear gas against civilians in 100 cities. Martin Gugino, a 75-year-old man, was hospitalized last year for brain damage and a fractured skull after he was shoved to the ground by the police while he was protesting Floyd’s death. This brutality on the citizens of this country that is being committed by an institution that is said to protect us is unacceptable.
Our system of policing isn’t broken. It’s doing exactly what it was designed to do, keep systemic racism in place and keep the ruling class in power by force. Police departments in the South have their roots in catching escaped slaves, and police departments in the North have their roots in suppressing strikes.
Police violence to those who are a threat to the status quo is nothing new. In 1969, the Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were killed during a raid by the Chicago police. In 1963, the Birmingham police attacked civil rights protesters, many of them children, with police dogs and fire hoses.
While the institution of policing is good at maintaining “law and order” on behalf of the ruling class, it isn’t very effective at dealing with actual crimes. According to an article on The Conversation, only 22 percent of serious crimes reported to the police in 2018 ended with an arrest, with only 4.1 percent ending in a conviction. The institution of policing also fails to deal with the root cause of many crimes. Many people turn to crime out of economic desperation, and lifting people out of poverty would prevent many crimes from happening in the first place.
It is clear that our system of policing cannot be reformed. The Minnepolas police department has implemented many reforms, including training policies to deal with implicit bias and to encourage de-escalation, but 36 people were still killed by the Minneapolis Police Department since January 2000. Derrick Chauvin, the officer who killed George Floyd, had at least 17 use of force complaints filed against him throughout his career in the Minneapolis Police Department, but he wasn’t fired until he killed Floyd. Eric Garner was choked to death in 2014, even though chokeholds have been banned in New York since 1993. How many more people have to die before we abolish this oppressive institution? How many more grieving mothers, fathers, sons and daughters must bury their loved ones? When will the bloodshed end?