The core of the issue of police brutality across the US lies in a systematic approach that rewards only punitive actions and ignores any positive interactions with the community, Robert Gangi from the Police Reform Organizing Project told RT.
RT:Is it fair
to characterize that perhaps police violence is increasing? Or is
it just the public and the media talking about it
Robert Ganji: It is a good question, and I do
not know what the absolute correct response is. It is certainly
true that we are talking about it more. It certainly true that
these issues are getting more public attention, a lot more media
attention. In New York City, which I’m most familiar with, the
issue of discriminatory and abusive policing began to get
attention 2-3 years ago around the issue of stop and frisk. Bill
de Blasio during the 2013 mayor campaign used the issue of stop
and frisk and abusive policing as a centerpiece of his campaign.
There was a famous ad in the NYC with his young son, who is
obviously a son of de Blasio’s marriage with a black woman, so he
is a black race child. He appears to be a black teenager,
enormously charming and good looking, and he said: “vote for my
father because he is going to eliminate abusive policing and
— TIGERLILY (@tigerlilyysays) February
So in NYC it is an issue that has gotten a lot more attention
than ever it has in the past. And it is also true nationally,
with all the attention from the Michael Brown incident and the no
indictment in that case. And the police shooting of Tamir Rice,
the 12-year-old boy in Cleveland. The Garner case in New York
City where it was clearly a case of excessive force by the police
and again no indictment. And then just recently we have the
shooting of a homeless, colored man in Los Angeles getting a lot
more attention than it would have gotten in my view certainly a
year or two ago.
RT: So what about all that talk about body
cameras? Do you see that as something that is necessary or do you
think it might interrupt police activity?
RG: The body cameras we see as a positive step,
as a constructive step but it won’t get to the heart of the
problem. If the Eric Garner incident shows us anything – there
you have a video- there is no body camera that is going to give
you as clear film as to what actually happen than that video did.
And still it resulted in no indictment of the police officers
We think body cameras could be a constructive step. It could
possibly curb an officer who might be inclined to be abusive or
disrespectful. But again, we think it is more of a superficial
step in the right direction. We need very strong measures being
adopted by the politicians and police commissioners who are
responsible for the police departments in order to get to the
heart of the problem.
RT: So do you think this is more of a
systemic thing, rather than adding more equipment to
RG: The quota system is definitely a part of the
heart of the problem. In New York despite Bratton’s denials, we
clearly have a quota system within the NYPD. And officers,
including officers of color and white officers, are under
pressure every day and every week to make the numbers. That means
stops. That means arrests. And that means some incidents.
Officers do not get credit for constructive interactions with the
community. They only get credit within the department for
punitive interactions. One officer said to me – and this is a
very illuminating quote…he was one of the few officers who
would publicly object to quotas because of such a fear of
retaliation from the department. So he said to me, “if I happened
to break up a fight between two boys in school and send them home
– I don’t get credit. If I help deliver a baby in an emergency –
I don’t get credit. I’ll get high marks if I give out a seatbelt
ticket or make an arrest.” And the reason why I think that quote
is so illuminating is that it turns on its head the idea of good
policing that most people have.