The murder of George Floyd, which was the equivalent of a public lynching, is tragically nothing new. Police brutality against black people has always been there.
This time, however, it’s been caught on video. It was a slow, terrifying and painful death for Floyd. The amount of times he clearly said “I can’t breathe.…” and was ignored. Unconscionable that anyone could ignore that, let alone carry on causing it.
The subsequent killing of Tony McDade further compounded the lack of care from the police to the BAME community. Trust has been broken repeatedly and people have had enough.
The protests are needed: when a spoken voice is not heard, you have to shout! Protests only evolve into riots when the police begin attacking the protestors. I have seen much concern by the public, predominantly the white public, about the desecration of statues and buildings. When all you have to worry about is bricks and mortar and not your skin being seen as a weapon or a threat, well that’s the definition of White privilege right there. How can you dictate how anyone, especially black people who have been enslaved, raped, murdered, kidnapped and stolen from for over three hundred years, express anger?
The policing of BAME communities is similar in the USA and the UK in that black people are targeted. I believe if a police officer has a previous proven allegation for violence against someone then they should not be working, full stop. Stronger penalties for violence would serve as a deterrent.
The police need to know that a BAME person stopped by them for whatever reason, already has it in their head that they may not make it out from this stop alive. So nervousness, lack of eye contact, not reading body language and facial expression and all the other signs of what could be a condition like autism, could simply be a neurotypical person’s terror that they may never see their family again. Now imagine that same scenario in the head of someone who already has communication difficulties? Devastating.
We have seen numerous cases of police brutality against autistic people, especially BAME autistic people. As a black autistic activist, I think that the employment of neurodivergent advisors in the police force would be a step towards some sort of acknowledgement of the continuous mistakes they make. A council of BAME advisors I believe, is desperately needed, to keep a record of public concerns and wrong doings by the police.
There should be more black voices in the autistic and neurodiversity movements: we are not asked as much as we should be. The stereotype of an autistic is a white cis male, not a young black female. This needs to change. We have a place at the advocacy table, it’s time a plate was laid out.
A large part of this exclusion of BAME advocates is due to class and lack of opportunity. I can only speak for myself and I have always felt included, heard and welcomed in the labour movement.