The Weaponization of Race Within An Oppressive Security System
By Claire Xu
An issue that has long pervaded human history and how society is designed has been the degree to which the state has control or influence within their country, which lies in finding the correct balance between ensuring freedom of the people, providing protection, and maintaining order. With the racial tragedies and protests of 2020 in America, a long-established security and law enforcement system has been exposed and forced into a position of scrutiny. The gravity and profoundness of the cause have brought awareness to governmental shortcomings in all parts of the world, creating an ongoing wave of civil unrest and challenging the current security system. Ultimately, law enforcement is a body enabled by the government established to protect human rights and ensure individuals’ safety and well-being. When this responsibility is being neglected, and the rule of law is being violated, and when citizens’ no longer feel protected but rather fear the system, this indicates a need for change and redirects the importance of citizens voices and rights.
In America, the death of George Floyd renewed the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement and brought attention to the corrupt law enforcement system. The act of a white police officer pressing his knee into a Black man’s neck and ending his life represented the long-entrenched oppression and suffocation of Black people across America. This sparked an international movement of activism and civil unrest. Protests and petitions were happening across the world in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and sometimes peaceful protests erupted into violent brawls between citizens and law enforcement, videos depicting police brutality pervaded the internet. Stories that had been enshrouded with time were being discussed again and fought over to seek justice for wronged individuals and demonstrate the calcified systemic racism within the American institution.
Canada often deflects criticism through comparisons to America, yet this only serves to fortify the white supremacy and racism present within the justice system (Nora Loreto, 2020). When our supposed country’s leaders belittle and invalidate the common day experiences and premiers, ignorance grows and plagues the minds of more and more citizens. Premier Doug Ford stated, “We’re different than the United States, we don’t have the systemic, deep roots that they have had for years.” Indigenous and Black Canadians are more likely to die in a police shooting than white Canadians (Ryan Flanagan, 2020), and the Black Lives Matter movement is equally as prevalent in Canada (Nora Loreto, 2020) as it is within America. On June 4th, 2020, Indigenous woman Chantel Moore was shot and killed by the police officer assigned to her wellness check.Indigenous citizens face a degree of marginalization on a day to day basis, carrying the feeling of being followed and scrutinized as if they are a danger to fellow Canadians simply due to their race.
Constructed to protect citizens and maintain order, violations of human rights from law enforcement reveal we have strayed far from our initial intent. Systemic racism is one of the most prevalent issues that has afflicted society on an international scale. Creating equity and peace within a country requires the rule of law to be firmly entrenched within our institution. And when the system responsible for our safety is acting on racial bias and oppressing citizens based on their skin color, citizens must take the step to become educated and aware, to have the courage to speak up and take action. One can learn more about oppressive security systems, police brutality, and the interplay with racism through watching documentaries such as Above the Law and 13th or reading books like Invisible Man. Attending protests and signing petitions are direct ways to contribute to the cause and raise awareness. Many petitions can be found online to fight against police brutality and prosecute those who have wrongfully harmed colored individuals, for instance, recent petitions advocating for justice on behalf of the late Chantel Moore. After 2020’s fiery summer of activism, we must not fall back into a state of ignorance and laziness, only to be again revived by another act of injustice, at the cost of other’s lives.
Emma McIntosh, “Under fire over systemic racism in Ontario, Doug Ford creates anti-racism panel”, Canada’s National Observer, 2020
Nora Loreto, “How Canada tries to hide its racism by pointing a finger at the U.S.”, Canada’s National Observer, June 26, 2020
Ryan Flanagan, “What we know about the last 100 people shot and killed by police in Canada”, CTV news, June 19, 2020
Shane Magee “Investigation of shooting death of Chantel Moore could take months”, CBC News, June 5, 2020
William Spivey, “The History of American Police Oppression (Something to Consider When Debating De-funding)”, Medium, June 11, 2020
“Under suspicion: Issues raised by Indigenous peoples”, Ontario Human Rights Commision, 2017