Deviance, Defund the Police, and Black Lives Matter
The death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American male who was just trying to buy cigarettes, set off protests and civil unrest around the country. The protests sparked two big movements: Black Lives Matter movement and defund the police. While not new, the Black Lives Matter movement erupted into a powerful organization this summer. As well as the new idea of defunding the police.
For many, it is easy to say we should give less power to police. Police have the most power when it comes to crime, making arrests and doing their job. However, the police also make a community feel safe and protected. How did this happen? How do police abuse power but also make certain communities feel safer? How do police abuse their power such that killing a man regardless of their race becomes okay when it is not? There are plenty of cops out there who have been written up for misconduct or violations and are still working. It has nothing to do with giving police less or more money but everything to do with changing the system of policing. If society gets punished for crime so should law enforcement and all the other actors that play a role in the criminal justice system and let cops run free.
Deviance is seen to play a role in both movements. It is a behavior that violates social norms. This could mean anything! It is important to understand that while crime is deviance, not all deviance constitutes as crime. The #BLM movement wants to emphasize that no African American youth and adult should be considered deviant based on the color of their skin. #Defundthepolice emphasizes a similar understanding. Police should not view one as deviant based on their race but on if they are committing a crime and what crime is being committed. In my family it would be considered deviant to get pregnant before marriage or date and get married to someone who is not the same religion as me. Neither of these things would be considered a crime. I would not get arrested. However, in other families this may not be viewed as deviant. An example of something that is viewed as deviant by all of society is murder.
When George Floyd walked into the store to buy something, he was viewed as deviant because of the way he looked and the color of his skin. If I had walked into that shop to buy something the cashier would not call the police on me. Now the next issue is that when the police got there, instead of going about this in a procedural way, Floyd was knocked to the ground and a knee was placed on his neck. The police at the time had no idea if in fact the cashier who called them was actually right. They did not check if the bill was counterfeit or not. They assumed that because of the color of his skin he is a criminal.
Society, especially law enforcement must change the way they look at a person. Every single one of our lives matters. Regardless of the race we are human beings. It is unacceptable to be treated in an inhumane way by police who were originally brought to this country as a form of protection.