By Dr.Aslam Abdullah
The devil of death is none other than a policeman who killed George Floyd against the divine will. Religious clergy quoting scriptures tries to convince their followers that God decrees the time and the manner of death for each of us. If this is what the will is, then why punish the murderer? Why protest the oppression and why question those who kill and maim innocent people.
People die every day. In 2020, 61 million people will die. Death is the outcome of several physical conditions, and people can increase their chances of living longer if they take care of them properly. But none can escape death.
Physical violence, by police, is a significant cause of death in our world. In the U.S., the police killed 3215 people during the last 41 months, as reported by Statista.com. Non-blacks accounted for 1947 murders while whites for 1268.
Experts use different categories to describe the killing. The most popular ones are:
First-degree murder, second-degree murder, manslaughter, and homicide. But the result of all these terminologies is un-desired death.
The homicide is the deliberate and unlawful killing of one person by another.
The first-degree murder is the killing of a human being by a sane person, with intent, malice aforethought, and with no legal excuse or authority.
The second-degree is an unintentional murder that lacks premeditation, intended only to cause bodily harm, and demonstrates an extreme indifference to human life.
Manslaughter is the crime of killing a human without malice aforethought, or otherwise in the circumstances not amounting to murder.
The terminology determines the punishment for the accused. The judicial system, based on the arguments, decides the label to put on dead bodies. So insensitive to the deceased and the surviving members of the family. But this is how our judicial system has worked for centuries.
But why do the police, the protector and defender of the people kill and on whose behalf? Does the law permit them to murder? Or do they use the power legally vested to them at their discretion?
Not only in the U.S., but all over the world, one pattern is visible. The police violence against minority groups is higher than the majority. Why? The police are not neutral. It has its own biases, prejudices, and stereotypes. It reacts to a challenging situation based on its preconceived notions.
Our family structure, education system, religious teachings, political culture, and financial set up carry prejudices that history has handed down. Our immediate environment teaches us to hate, not love. We only refer to it when we speak in public and pretend that we are holier than thou.
The majority of police officers in the U.S. come from the white majority. A few them have respect for non-white people or cultures. In their view, the life of a white Christian is more precious than non-whites. It is like a caste system of Hindus. If you are born in a higher caste, you are privileged and a favorite of your deity or God.
This notion of supremacy often determines the nature of the response of police officers in unusual circumstances. George Floyd lost his life because the officer who choked him to death with his knee was a white supremacist first and a policeman later. He is not alone. There are many more in the U.S. They do not wear only police uniforms; they are in every sphere of life, deciding and determining others’ right to live and die. Religion, Constitutionalism, and liberalism, as well as conservatism, have failed to tame racism and supremacist attitudes. We all are at the mercy of hatred and bigotry, and we will continue to suffer because hatred lives in our heart, shaped by our families, places of worship, and the environment.