Lessons from George Floyd's Death about Police Racism and Brutality

2020-06-23 - 8:13 am

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): The killing of African-American George Floyd on May 25, 2020, at the hands of Minneapolis police and the protests that followed his death brought back the issue of racism and discrimination to the forefront, similarily shedding light on the oppression practiced by the security authorities against a group of citizens (Shia) in Bahrain.

Racism is not a new issue in the United States; however, the George Floyd incident led to a popular outrage which encouraged thousands of people to take to the streets to put an end to racism practiced against African-Americans.

Floyd's death has exposed the extent to which the role of the police in the United States has been amplified, with them having the upper hand in many issues and problems, ranging from cases of student absenteeism and homelessness to major crimes such as murder, rape and drug trafficking.

An 8-minute video of a police officer putting his knee on Floyd's neck (until he died) led to protests that the US hasn't witnessed in many years, in which whites, who make up the majority of the population, took part. The whites adopted the demands of blacks who amount to not more than 43 million (about 13% of the US population). The participation of white people had a clear impact and a significant role in the momentum that accompanied the protests.

White American activist, 75, participating in protests, bleeding after being pushed by a policeman in New York, June 5, 2020

With a quick search on the White Privilege hashtag (which speaks of white supremacy in America), you'll notice tens of thousands of tweets of white American figures, writers, journalists, and actors, recounting their stories and how they received special treatment because of their white skin.

In Bahrain, a number of tweeters highlighted their disgust towards the racist policeman's crime against Floyd, but the paradox is that the same tweeters practiced harsher discrimination against the majority of the citizens of their own skin. They did not feel any disgust as they saw Ahmed Farhan's head being smashed by the army. Meanwhile, the killing of Fakhrawi and Al-Ashiri due to torture in prison didn't mean anything to them. They didn't even care about the deaths of more than 200 citizens, all of whom belong to the majority Shiite population. The media in Bahrain has incited against protesters and called (and is still calling) for crushing and killing protestors.

Some Bahrainis who are weeping over Floyd have benefited from the privileges offered to them because they belong to the country's ruling party, which has always had the lion's share of senior positions, promotions, jobs, scholarships, and housing projects.

Unfortunately, we have not seen any of them go to the public to reveal that they have benefited from belonging to that class of citizens, easily receiving scholarships, jobs or promotions. None of them have come out to say that what they had obtained would not have been possible if they had belonged to the other sect. On the other hand, before 2011, complaints of discrimination have been always faced with an unjust government campaign that turned the victim into a traitor or a person seeking to cause discord and sedition in society.

In Bahrain, talking about discrimination, marginalization and racism against the indigenous Shiite community has been forbidden. Some close to the government have even turned these complaints into a matter of disdain, ridicule and laughter.

As a result of Floyd's death and the protests that accompanied the incident, a number of states in America made bold decisions in reducing the police budget and turning these funds into social programs that serve the black communities. These decisions are only made because of the principle of accountability that leads to changing officials if they fail to govern the country and the people. However, despite the high public debt in Bahrain that registered record highs and the sharp decline in oil prices, which is almost the only income source, Bahrain still invests in the military and security (Bahrain spends about $2.5 billion out of the 7 billion state budget annually on security and military agencies), at a time it could have spent part of this money on service and social projects that would reduce its need to spend on security and military.

In the 16th century, there was a British merchant named Edward Colston, elected to be a member of the British Parliament for a city called Bristol. Colston's most prominent trade was the slave trade, where he forcibly transported thousands of Africans on his ships to the colonies (19,000 of them died). After his death in 1721, a large statue of him was put in his hometown, Bristol, in his memory. Nearly 300 years after his death, anti-racism protesters (June 7, 2020) destroyed the statue and threw it in the city's port, from which its ships carrying slaves used to take off.

What happened to Colston must be a lesson to every oppressor who oppresses and discriminates people. The oppressors must know that the curse of the victims will haunt them. They may escape accountability during their lifetime, and a statue of them may be put in their honor by the mercenaries whom they depend on to improve their image, but history will be just with the victims even after the passing of time, and their memory will be destroyed even after 3 centuries.

Arabic Version


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