|Commentary: To serve and protect with a virus|
|Published on August 28, 2014|
|By Derrick Miller:The Outbreak: Since the killing of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, on August 9, 2014, Ferguson, Missouri, and despite a few editorials that describe the scope of the problem as if was an isolated incident, it has recalibrated several nerve cells.Why are we here again? August 9, was not a rare occurrence. It was the fourth killing of an unarmed black person by a white officer in five weeks. Many believed this was just another virus outbreak in another region. This is an ongoing question surrounding many police departments’ treatment of poor people, especially in black communities. Like the Ebola virus, many have sought to reverse a DNA code to cure an over 200-year affliction since slavery. Michael Brown’s death has revisited a hazardous dark chapter that consistently tests our invariability.
These toxic cells are racism, prejudice, economic deprivation, education inequality, polarization, among many other things that often unexpectedly surface. I hope, when the streets are cleared, these issues do not become dormant and life goes on as normal while many continue to struggle with: (1) protection vs. freedom; (2) correctional system; (3) police brutality; (4) tactics; (5) race; (6) culture; (7) abuse of authority; (8) demographics vs. representation; and (9) priority and government role.The lack of uniformity in several uneven communities only shows us the struggle between pluralism and elitism. One, police should help the people, and the people should help themselves and, two, the perception that they protect the rich, and suppress the poor create doubts.
The demonstrations that followed were not all infected by thugs or gangsters and only black people.Other races voiced their concerns of what appearedto be a public department with a closed system. Few people arrived with infected tissues in trying to disrupt good organs.However, the focus was to decide which lives are more valuable between blacks and whites, and stopping undiagnosed quarantine that has killed healthy cells.As the world watched, Ferguson law enforcement struggled to keep up order, handling of the protesters made front pages globally on tactics used — rubber bullets, tear gas and multiple arrests, including journalists.Sadly, the US is not alone facing scrutiny of police brutality and excessive use force that have devastated many lives.
In the Caribbean, across from the white sand and blue waters, many of us visitors are struggling. However, racism tend to be muted as it is often between the haves vs. have-nots and concerns of limited accountability by government officials for the have-nots.Russia and Iran appeared concerned despite their poor records on dissenting views by its citizens. However, I am not implying one should use one’s own issues to call out others.Police Ebola: For decades, several poor communities are injected with a frustration virus.
Although few people might have been exposed and already processed, navigation such as a simple drive, or walk to one’s favourite candy store can be a reason to be quarantined. Even when an individual has not been exposed or engaged in any toxicity, consistently restrictive masks are issued. Furthermore, sometimes an meet in an unmarked quarantined space with law enforcement and any negative gesture out of frustration can dictate if one lives or dies simply refusing to accept a surgical mask.
One writer argued just do what you are told. It is extremely important to comply with an officer’s order. However, for many young black men and other minorities in their reality, accepting a command often only reduces the amount of bullies from perhaps from ten to six, as a decision had already been made.
Even when authority has solid evidence, gaining compliance requires good tactics. For example, despite much-needed treatment to halt the spread of the Ebola virus in Monrovia, Liberia, the recent government approach after the world has taken notice only created more problems as reported.
Several predominantly black poor communities have been plagued with crime, cultural and socioeconomic issues and in need of an antibiotic. According to Rebecca Klein, Huffington Post, only 50 percent graduation rate in 2013 compared to 86 percent of the state and at least 60 percent had at least one suspension in Michael Brown’s high school. If these symptoms were found in predominately white schools, a vaccine would have been developed and or an operation with new blood transfusions. This issue requires investments and interactions.
Most of these officers do not live in the communities they serve, unable to relate and recognize a single black healthy cell. It seems only when an epidemic erupts doctors who sit in isolated gated communities tasked with decisions only took notice while the problem has been known for decades. These labs are only treating symptoms, and not the cause of the problems.
The lack of medicine or limited interjected ones often creates more delusions and long-term side effects. Although traces of cells need to be isolated and incapacitated, an entire community should not be treated as if all are infected.
It is problematic being viewed as the only affected people while knowing that more affluent towns have also been exposed but overlooked. These communities need an economic medication to prevent outbreaks, but priority seems to be invested equipment in anticipation of divide and turmoil.
The broken window theory that is based on zero tolerance and swift action solutions seems to have switched to everyone in the community and not the criminal elements. Not all medicine work for the Ebola virus and these community labs must seek new medicines.
Traces: Modern policing is not a new concept in our society. It has been around since the early 1800s, created in Great Britain. As a few scholars noted that it was used to keep slaves in check from running away from their masters. Maybe that mindset still exists in some departments today.
George Kelling and Mark More analysed the US evolution for a Department of Justice studies. The Political Era (1840s – 1930s). This was period where close ties between the police and politicians, and emphasis was on making politician happy. The Reform Era (1930s – 1970s) focused on arrest, and professional fighting crimes. Community Policing Era (1970 to present). This is where partnerships with the community and police agencies work together.
According to several studies, community policing has been successful when it is implemented correctly. However, in some areas this theory seems only to be on paper. Furthermore, it seems most of today’s operations are stuck in the two eras, like an apartheid system where one is free to move, but mentally trapped.
In a recent CNN panel, a Florida police chief stated that not all officers believe in community policing. This is not to say these officers do not uphold the law and should not be part of the institution. However, forcing officers inside communities to work with different racial and socio-economic background could be a call for more hands-up-don’t-shoot cases, as one easily defaulted back to training like muscle memory as to where he carries his or her weapon.
Perception vs. Reality: It is not an easy task being a police officer. Law enforcement wears multiple hats; they need as much support as we can afford them. Sometimes it seems they have more issues than policies to meet society’s demands in fighting crimes while balancing human rights. Even in cases where an officer is being out-gunned, the expectation society places on the officer often, puts law enforcement in a tight spot, balancing perceptions and reality.
Many of today’s police officers are extremely educated and become a social worker dealing with a domestic violence, child abuse issue, plotting a crime scene on computer models, to predicting trouble spots, while some cannot diffuse an incident without pulling a weapon.
Bureaucratization can create a set of norms that often lead to social problems. A system can be well organized, but hard to adjust to current and changing reality. How can several decades of them vs. us change in a few hours?
Ferguson prosecutor, Robert McCulloch came under fire for how he handled earlier criminal cases and perceived favouritism of law enforcement that led to mistrust in the community. He was elected several times and has a close ties to the police unit. Often when community policing fails, there are repeated called for tolerance, inclusion, resignation or be fired.
The department seems to have an operation stuck in the two previous political and reform eras. Many officers were making arrests, restricting media traffic during the protest were part of a few systematic issues.
However, not all white officers involved in killing of a black man are racist. Nevertheless, we cannot use disciplinary records as the only guide because behind closed-door people often grouped by their ideology. One can be anti-gay, blacks, white, Jews, women, immigrants, and still function on the job. Institutional racism is just as dangerous. Moreover, we cannot ignore few bad apples in disguise. For example, two officers tied to the Klux Klux Klan recently in Florida.
It seems our society have become immune to these shootings. What is more troubling if an individual confirmed as mentally disturbed is not able to comprehend the danger of approaching an officer with a deadly weapon, it can easily be justified. Society must make sure when it eliminates a virus it must be only when it threatens the life of an entire community and not because of its label.
During a CNN interview, a young man wrote two poems, one for the good police officers, and one for the bad ones. This is a sign of hope despite some bad viruses, there are still good cells that still believes in public service, and just want to make it home to their families after each shift just like any average person.
Updated 11-29-2014: Despite decades of frustrations; destroying your own community is never a solution to any social problems, because often the fundamental core issues often burned in the created flames.
More than a game: By D.R. Miller
Global Colours: Every four years, millions of fans gather in person at watch parties in public parks and bars to see the best of the best players face off for bragging rights until another four years. This remarkable event never seems to be far from controversy wherever it is being played. These controversies range from soccer or football, corruptions and the socio-economic responsibility it should take on in our society.
Despite the logistics, since the 2014 games begun, the Amazon colors have taken over our television, iPhones, smartphones, and iPads like a rainbow. However, beneath it all, local residents are crying for a new economic canvas to modernize and move poor people to better standard of living. They are the ones being left out of the prints. After the final whistle has blown, they too will be still asking economic referees for a penalty that was not given on a foul play.
The poor socio-economic issues surrounding these games often erupt in protests. The games go on, but the turmoil lingers, blocks from where the games are being played. In the end, these issues never left, as they will re-emerge like the sea rushing back to the shores to recreate the sand paths that were eroded by rich footprints left the day before.
Football is a global game that originated in England, but later called soccer in the US. The game unites people. Relatively, it is not expensive to start a game. However, the gap between the rich and the poor is further than the locations where these games are being played, while the poverty is closer than the two goal posts.
“The Brazilian local economy problems have been overlooked,” several protesters argued. It appears this colour is seldom beamed to the rest of the world. Unfortunately, Brazilians are now under the microscope. The carefully orchestrated images that emerge from the sideline will have a lasting effect.
The World Cup is bigger than its location, despite heartaches, especially from the early departure by England, Italy and Australia. However, the stage is still where players and supporters use the event to highlight their countries, send statements, and reconnect with compatriots who are still club rivals. This is like a family reunion before they head back to business.
Most importantly, lifelong friendships are formed, even between countries without diplomatic ties and where cultural divides are rooted in political turmoil.
Yes! This is the real “World Champion Series,” and the true world champions are crowned after eight weeks.
The Economics: These games are being led under the International Association Federation of Football (FIFA). It is a billion-dollar industry, and throughout this region, the games are ubiquitous. Forbes magazine has reported that (FIFA) will generate about $4 billion in revenue. However, more needs to be done to promote social programs to cut poverty and not the appearance of forcing local economies to stretch their budgets to accommodate its demands.
In preparation of the 2014 World Cup, an estimated cost of up to US$11 billion was spent — while the Brazilian economy remains stagnant. However, the government has predicted that it will be a net positive for the overall economy, stemming from event-related services among several industries.
Wherever FIFA places its goal posts, it is always under the microscope. Recently published in a British magazine, the organization is being investigated on corruption and bribes related to the Qatar 2022 bid. Nevertheless, FIFA always manages to execute successful events. The game between the US and Portugal had one of the highest ratings, upward of 21 million. Imagine if these fans force FIFA to make sure some economic balance where it places the next goal posts.
FIFA’s operation is not much different from the American National Football League (NFL). Inside these games, recruitment is alive. This is where wealthy club managers scope every play, searching for the next star and the face of new marketing global campaigns.
Brazil is not alone in this new paradigm shift, as the media outlets would have liked us to believe. In the US, billions have also been spent on NFL stadiums and baseball parks, funded with taxpayers’ money. In some cases, poor neighbours are also uprooted; residents are priced out of the real estate market, and relocated for the perfect camera shots. Often these public investments are unsuccessful. The fans are gone and games are empty.
Economic gentrification has taken place for over a decade in other areas like China, Caribbean and Europe.Sure, these new areas will attract visitors in the long-run, but one cannot ignore the fact that, a few blocks down the street, across from these new complexes lie drug-infested housing projects, prostitution, sexual violence, and even exploitation of children, as many wait for a foul ball to exit the stadiums to be noticed.
The socio-economic argument that surrounds the World Cup is nothing new. In 2010, South Africa went through the same issues on how much its own government spent that could have been used to move people out of poverty.
Soccer, or football, has generated several global stars, and has moved families out of poverty. Some of their stories are similar to some players of the NFL, National Basketball Association (NBA), baseball and many other professional sports. In some areas, the millions generated from players who left slums (ghettos) seldom trickle down to communities where it all started.
Game Lessons: With success should come responsibility, and despite the Beautiful Game that has broken down barriers, some players still face discrimination. Some are called niggers, monkey and banana being used as symbol a games by some fans. Such as gentrification, our society has been increasingly shifting as it is becoming more diverse and that sometimes causes tension
FIFA should know how to combat these issues. It has been around since 1904 and now has over 300,000 clubs and over 240 million players around the world.
The game represents a much wider reach far beyond 90 minutes on the field. It is an extension of the communities, economics, discipline teamwork, acceptance, talent optimization and diplomacy, even between nations with political tensions.
As a young man, a soccer/football field and now “pitch” as it is called by some was critical to stay off the streets after school. Although not all young players became stars, the friendships gained, and lessons learned lasted a lifetime.
Often I join a few new fans at the local sport bars who seem intrigued with long pauses when they realize a few team’s starting 11 such as the French, Germans, the Italians have black players, and some are Muslims. It is more than a game and awareness is key. Thirty years later since I had to navigate drug and crime infested areas to reach a local field, I wondered if our own socio-economic polarization on this side of town has reduced some of our imagination. Perhaps our own major league should do more.
Many now are aware that the Iranians plays soccer and not everything is about nuclear weapons and tension with the Israelis. Even the Israelis have a solid team. On the Latin side of town, some players are of African descent, with similarities as an NFL player and they too are extremely rich and more famous.
Responsibility: FIFA is excellent at managing the global operation. However, as our society becomes more diverse, isolated by ideology and personal interests, it will need more than building stadiums. Equality, discrimination, and a platform for players to speak when issues threaten to reduce the next generation of players.
This 2014 World Cup has been a homecoming for many South American teams, and celebrations have been tremendous. However, there is a dark side that is lurking in some countries just north of these games off the Atlantic Ocean, thousands of children who have fled their countries where a few dominating stars call home.
Most of these children without their parents are under age 10 and now in detention camps at the US border. Up to 90,000 came from Honduras, Colombia and Guatemala as reported. These young people fled to escape sexual violence and other inhumane treatment stemming from crime. No one will know the long-term physiological impact but it can be devastating, as studies have shown. Some of the children I believe have left posters of favourite players in the game today. However, it seems their stories have gone unnoticed until the final whistle has been blown. These players have to step up, as most of the atrocities are a few blocks from their own stadiums.
The football organizations and its players cannot be the world police but with success and global appeal comes responsibility to speak in humanitarian crisis. Billions are being spent to create perfect pictures while others seek the next Latin star to fill their stadiums from ticket sales.
Sadly, some are outside the gated walls looking to take the dangerous trip north, while other pitches are filled with toxins and the goal posts are two empty containers with lead. Maybe revenue generated can be used to at least give awareness to this problem.
Recently, Italian star Mario Balotelli spoke up after he faced racial slurs from a few fans and more players have to do the same.
Extra Minutes: These extra minutes added to games can generate more revenue for FIFA. However, in a few weeks, the cameras will be gone; and well-dressed immigrant men and women from the television networks with few selected feel-good stories, while surrounded with security as if they are in a war zone, will leave town.
When the final whistle is blown, some of the players will have to pass through their poor towns and cities plagued with violence. Before FIFA canvasses the next venue, it should not only seek ways on how to increase its own balance sheet. It must make sure the community economic impact benefits all, regardless of colour, class, race, and socio-economic status, because the next 100 years can only be beautiful if it remains more than a game.
Commentary: Celebrity and criminal justice: A test of the Jamaican criminal justice system
Published on April 2, 2014: By Derrick Miller
The anticipated verdict was more about the Jamaican justice system, and how they would handle the last disposition, including the far-reaching effect over the Caribbean in general on celebrity justice, victims, and what statement it would send to the next generation, where trust is often ranked low as it relates to the criminal justice system.The trial was bigger than the prosecutors, defense counsel, witnesses, law enforcement and how they gathered and preserved evidence or the lack of communication, and proper rules.
It bought back memories of the O.J. Simpson case where he was found not guilty on a double murder charge. The trial put criminal justice in focus. It was a combination of how law enforcement conducted themselves, money, celebrity, and class.
Although (Vybz Kartel case did not receive the same worldwide notoriety such as the O.J. Simpson case in 1995. Several in the Caribbean watched this case closely about how justice would be served. Quietly, to many, this public case brought back memories of earlier ones in which earlier politicians, the rich and powerful people in the region often walk away free, even when the evidence points more than likely that a crime has occurred.
This is not to say that all rich, famous, and powerful defendants were guilty in all earlier cases. However, as many Jamaicans waited in anticipation of the verdict, the alert for civil disobedience and vigilante justice was high. However, the Jamaica judiciary system rose to the challenge and maintained order after the verdict. What was even impressive, many became educated with the jury system, and how the overall the court process works for the first and the media played an important role.
Often in regions where poor economic conditions still have a strong hold, justice is often seen through the eyes of one’s economic status, and notoriety. In fact, as much as we would like to see a balanced system, often these trial outcomes mirror several other countries based on one’s race, sex, creed, and colour. The mandated strategies to combat crime, and public safety should not create a generation of hopelessness. It should make sure that when penal codes are violated, the rule of law as written in the “said constitution” remain intact.
Rule of law, public service, and safety are extremely important, whether in a democratic or totalitarian system of government. Promoting central control is responsive government. This concept ensures that the right people are being selected, and the departments are staffed properly to keep up integrity, and correspondingly balance the public safety mission.
Today, a majority of us still look at the criminal justice system as “justice for the right price.” This is true especially when many people are being incarcerated not because of overwhelming evidence, or simple probable cause is found beyond a reasonable doubt. It is simply because they could not afford the defence needed to poke holes in government cases, and the ones who are sworn to uphold the law are being bought off from behind the bench.
The idea of celebrity justice is almost like policing and its evolution what I consider moving from the boardroom into the public space. Criminal justice throughout the Caribbean region has evolved such as the police force that was first developed within the context of maintaining a class system that protected private property in the early 18th century in Great Britain and now has become a decentralized system globally.
There is no doubt this verdict will be debated for months to come, and somewhat opens a new frontier about how this process really works. Debating the rule of law is nothing new. When other nations adopted the British common law, they also went through a period of amendment after it had been tested in the court of law.
When colonial British powers stretched throughout the Caribbean region, it not only brought slaves, but a criminal justice system that set the foundation how government protects its people and implements justice. Often, as history has shown us, only a few have benefited between haves vs. have-nots. However, this verdict, regardless of one’s position, should offer some hope.
Many in the island perhaps never understood how the judicial system works, and the responsibility that comes with being selected even as a juror. Now that the verdict is in, the region must begin to educate itself, from the primary schools to colleges on how the process works and expectation of a fair and balanced justice system and regardless of the defence one can afford.
The verdict has tested the Jamaican judicial system, law enforcement rules and what role entertainers play in the system, and if justice can be bought. This verdict is more than just one man, and the impact will have a lasting effect. On the other hand, if the government does not use this opportunity to send a message, very soon key departments will no longer be capable of functioning to their fullest capacity as required to keep up public safety and a fair and balanced system.
What is sad from this verdict, despite a modernized process, it appears when a crime has been solved in the region, several departments stay on trial afterwards, such as the Vybz Kartel’s conviction.
The last analysis is that Vybz Kartel’s new jail number will not make a difference on the Jamaican stock exchange, or how many more prisons will be needed or an improvement to the economic condition. On the other hand, if this criminal trend continues, soon Jamaica and other areas will have to build more prisons as one of the untold stories in the justice system and especially where more prisons are being built and privately owned. They often need clients/customers to keep their operations going. As a result, the lives of the less fortunate among us seem to have diminished to debits and credits on a balance sheet or a ticker symbol trading in the stock markets.
The concept that entertainers were immune from the criminal justice system in Jamaica has now been proven incorrect. However, it seems the blame game continues about what went wrong, and what could have been done differently? Training is now critical and, if the body of government that plays a vital role in upholding the law refuses to investigate gaps from preserving of evidence, and ensuring that officers can conduct comprehensive investigations from the emergency system to tracking criminals, to redefining agility and structural deficiencies, then public trust will still continue to decline.
We have to be careful not to blame everyone immediately if the outcome was not favourable to expectation. Dedicated employees might have made some mistakes in the process, but what has taken place after the verdict is that law enforcement seems to have become the focus of the debates. Going forward, the government needs to set up a commission to look at these issues to see if under staffing and proper training in those vital areas need to be addressed immediately.
How do we get there? The system should meet an independent commission, which will be far from coerced-subjectivity and politics, to check any lapse in compliance that has led to overall deficits across the agency that necessitates action. It is important that they work together and communicate about the overall agency process and make sure continued security is adhered to and that accessibility to sensitive information is restricted to authorized users only.
Checks and balances are always needed, and although it can slow the process from hiring to implementation of human resources functions; however, urgent action is needed to discuss the dedicated staff concerns and going forward give some level of oversight both internal and external.
I had never heard of him before this trial. However, I realize that he has a huge following, and some might not agree with the outcome, and that is fine and democratic in any society. We cannot force anyone about who to love. On the other side, imagine the impact he could have had mobilizing the next generation on to better things. I am still optimistic that this time justice was in the open, and not taken up in the hands of a few through retaliation.
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