The United States has been convulsed by protests and riots following the death in police custody of George Floyd. Outrage was sparked by video footage clearly showing a white police officer kneeling on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds whilst he lay prostrate, pleading for his life and for air. The horrific nature of the footage is such that – unlike in similar events before – even Fox News and President Trump voiced condemnation, and the officers in question were fired (though not initially charged). As protests continued and rioting spread, however, even this minimal level of official sympathy was replaced with hard-line rhetoric that echoes discredited understandings of crowds and how to police them (influenced and inflected here by a racialised history of policing in the USA). In what follows, we outline Trump’s call for draconian policing, explore the social science of protest policing, and consider alternative approaches.
Tag: Police action
The uncertainties surrounding Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the recent oil price collapse have merged to create a truly perfect storm for the North East of Scotland. Once again, history repeats itself in a region where a heavy reliance on the oil and gas sector means that there are profound consequences which follow when crisis hits: places such as Aberdeen have not fully recovered from the last crash six years ago. Now, with the economic turmoil of lockdown, individuals, families and local businesses are facing an even greater struggle for survival. The unmet basic needs in Aberdeen are such that more than seventy local organisations are currently working to address the scale of food poverty here. These harrowing, painful realities are in stark contrast with Aberdeen’s reputation of “the oil rich capital of Europe.”
On 26 March 2020, President Uhuru Kenyatta invoked the Public Order Act, ordering a nationwide curfew from 7pm to 5am in an attempt to manage the spread of Covid-19. Management of the curfew by the police has been chaotic and brutal, with both the media and citizens recording and reporting many cases of human rights violations. By end of April, eleven people had died as a result of police violence during the curfew. This included thirteen-year-old Yassin Hussein Moyo from Nairobi’s Eastlands area, who was shot in the stomach on 31 March while standing on his third-floor balcony. Since their inception, measures that were supposed to curb a public health crisis, have only served to criminalize the vulnerable and increase their exposure to police brutality.
‘If only they could deploy more soldiers and police for effective enforcement’, Zukiswa wrote, efforts to contain Covid-19 might be successful. Like almost half of the residents in Khayelitsha, Zukiswa lives in informal housing. Throughout the crisis, she has seen little of the police or army in her area, save when they were closing down shebeens. During the Easter weekend, however, she was ‘traumatised’ when the Metro Police forcibly evicted residents of the informal settlement Empolweni from their homes and ‘harassed the people and abused them’.