The horrendous recent killing of George Floyd, brazenly committed by heavy-handed policemen, has enraged peoples around the world and understandably sparked violent protests in the US, with gut-wrenching chants of ”Black Lives Matter” and “I can’t breathe”.
It is appropriate to recall that the black people in the US were freed for political and economic reasons in1863 under the Emancipation Proclamation They were brought -involuntarily and in chains-with no rights. The color black was made and remains a stigma. Since that time, most blacks in America have been subjected to a life of menial jobs (last in, first out),deprived of proper education or skills, without health insurance or subsidised housing, living in shanty, segregated areas with no hope of a modicum of a decent future. Covid 19 has become a “double whammy” for the blacks, given their difficult circumstances.
Past attempts to contain police brutality through reform have failed. Our black brethren are therefore urged to strive soonest for one that would bring police and community together. The process that comes to mind, is the age-old ‘Koban’ police system of Japan. Briefly, these are police boxes scattered over neighbourhoods, boroughs, districts, etc manned by two to four policemen each. Their functions are to build close relationships with the community (literally one-on-one) so as as to give help or advice/assistance as necessary, to monitor the areas of their jurisdictions for any untoward incident, to respond promptly to calls for emergency help.How the actual system and structure might be put in place should be left to a special Independent Commission to determine, quickly and fairly, with help as necessary from the Japanese.government. Having lived in Japan myself for almost six years, I am fully convinced of the sense of community, peace and security this provides.
When police reform is accomplished and we become a full part of a shared humanity, all lives will matter.