The video, however, was without appeal. It shows Daniel Pantaleo, a new york policeman, to grip with his arm the neck of Eric Garner, a seller of cigarettes on the sly. Taking dangerous to stop on the ground. The Black 43-year-old father of six children, loses consciousness and dies shortly after. We are in 2014, and his cry repeated eleven times "I can't breathe" will become the slogan of the movement Black Lives Matter. But the jurors refuse to indict Daniel Pantaleo, who remains in office. It was five years later that he is eventually sacked by the head of the police of New York, at the end of a long internal investigation. It does not prevent his union to defend him, claiming he "would never have had to be fired" and that the city was flattened in front of " the extremist anti-police ". The death of George Floyd, in the same circumstances, recalled that the country had a problem with his police.
The police are virtually untouchable in the United States. The politicians fear them, jurors in the trial were a priori favourable to them and the law protects them. In march, plainclothes police kicked down in the middle of the night the door to the apartment, Breonna Taylor, an African-American of 26 years, employed in the emergency department at a hospital in Kentucky. They were looking for drugs. After a confrontation with her boyfriend, who, believing burglars, pulled a gun, the police fired eight times, killing the young woman. No drug has been found. His mother filed a lawsuit, but it has little chance of winning, because of qualified immunity, which makes it very difficult to prosecute police officers. According to Sonia Sotomayor, the judge of the supreme Court, it has become a "shield absolute" behind which to shelter the police. And several lawsuits are underway to remove it. As for the trial, if 98 police officers have been arrested in connection with a mass shooting between 2013 and 2019, only three have been convicted.
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1 881 police fired in 10 years
there's also the weight of the trade unions. "In many places, the patron of the union is much more important and influential as the head of the police," says Rashawn Ray, a researcher at the Brookings Institution. "He does everything to block legislation that would compel police officers to answer for their acts. "Minneapolis is the model example. The union's president, Bob Kroll, which has been the subject himself of 29 complaints in his career, has resisted for years all efforts of reform – the port of the camera, training in conflict management... When the mayor has forbidden the exercises how "warriors" who teach the violent confrontation, Kroll, furious, announced that the union would continue to offer it free of charge. After the death of George Floyd, he wrote a letter to its members describing it as a "violent terrorist" and describing the events of the " terrorist movement ". And he has already announced that he was going to do everything to defend the four police officers involved.
According to a survey by the Washington Post that between 2007 and 2017, the main services of the country's police have fired at least 1 881 police for bad driving and more than 450 have been reinstated after appeals.
The death of George Floyd, revived the movement in favour of the reforms. But this is not simple. There are nearly 18,000 police forces in the United States, scattered at the federal level, at the level of the 50 States and especially at the local level, in counties, cities... This system is very fragmented, is inefficient, costly, and above all prevents the uniform standards of recruitment, training, code of conduct... In some places, it is possible to use incapacitating gas against individuals liabilities whereas elsewhere, it is only authorized in case of resistance to an arrest. As for the training, it varies from one State to the other. In Florida in 2016, a hairdresser had to complete 1,200 hours of classes compared with 770 for a candidate to the police. The Americans are always wary of a federal police force and many believe that the forces of the local order are more suitable to the needs of the community.
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For Seth Stoughton, a former police officer became a professor at the university of South Carolina, one of the causes of police brutality more than racism rampant, it is the training at the police academy. Students " learn that every encounter, every individual is a potential threat. It must always be on guard ", their hammers there. Most of the time, " the police are not by anger or hatred, but because they are afraid ". Others denounced the militarization of police forces. In the 1990s, to combat the gang war, the Pentagon has created a program that gives the forces of law and order in military surplus from the Iraq war. We can see these days in Minneapolis, or Atlanta, where troops dressed in camouflaged armed with assault rifles are patrolling the city in armoured vehicles as if it was in Mosul.
" It is too easy to say that everything is the fault of the police ", said a new york policeman to retire. "It is not the root of all the problems of Ferguson, or of Baltimore : the poverty, the unemployment, the absence of men, often in prison..."
Even if the police in the us have, of course, not all relaxation easy, there's still something not right. Blacks are almost three times more likely to be killed by police than Whites. And the police violence is especially visible in the manifs. In Buffalo, the police have pushed deliberately an old man, who was injured by falling. Others have released shots of Taser two men in a car in Atlanta... to force them To play the Robocops, of course there are burrs, many of which, filmed by passers by, to come out.
But there are there more than before ? As incredible as it seems, nobody has the slightest idea. Not even the boss of the FBI ! There are no statistics of the number of citizens killed by the police – so that we know exactly how many people have been bitten by a shark. Several sites list more than 1 000 deaths per year, three per day. In Japan, last year, there has not been a single death. By comparison, a little over a hundred police officers are killed each year. There is no database that lists the agents fired, which allows them to get hired in the office of the next city.
" You have changed the world, George ", has launched Al Sharpton, the black leader at the awards ceremony in Minneapolis. But he changed the strengths of the college ? A number of elected officials and police officers – including the biggest union – have condemned immediately the actions of the police officers responsible for his death. Derek Chauvin and his three accomplices have been dismissed and charged with a celerity never before. Colorado and Wisconsin are considering new laws to limit the brutality,...
" It is really amazing to see such a strong condemnation of the police officers of Minneapolis. Usually, the police stick together and are launching investigations to save time, waiting for public opinion to move on to something else, " observes Tom Barham, a former Los Angeles police officer, and one of the leaders of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, a group that calls for reforms. But he remains sceptical about the long-term impact. "For 50 years, after each race riot, there are commissions that produce large reports on reforms. It all ends up on the shelves to gather dust. And nothing changes. "
Decrease in the budget of the police
It is perhaps for this reason that among the signs raised in the manifs in Minneapolis or Washington, we find more and more the slogan : Cut the police budget. This movement hitherto marginal is in the process of making oil spot, helped by the pandemic. With the huge economic crisis, all cities must tighten their belts. However, the resources allocated to the forces of order represent between one-third and 60 % of the budget of the municipalities. Where calls to the reduce and redirect the funds towards the prevention of violence, HOMELESS, mental health... Minneapolis, the group Reclaim the Block has launched a petition requesting a decrease of $ 45 million of the budget. In Los Angeles, the authorities are planning to cut 150 million...
In the meantime, Daniel Pantaleo, the police officer fired in New York to have, in 2014, caused the death of Eric Garner, has filed a court action to be reinstated...