Written by Raina Steven, Grade 11 student at Twin Lakes Secondary School
This may be a rather unconventional article compared to what you’re used to reading on this site. This can probably be traced back to the fact that I am a 16 year old that uses way too much passive voice in her writing. However, even though I may be young, I have a very important goal.
My name is Raina Steven and I am a Grade 11 student at Twin Lakes Secondary School in Orillia. I have set up a Twitter account (@policingp) as a school project that focuses on some of the inaccuracies in the media and specifically how this affects our relationships with law enforcement.
Over and over again I’ve seen police brutality in the news, especially directed toward people of colour. However, upon research, I learned that many of the stories of police brutality were actually inaccurate. For example, it was believed that Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18 year old, was shot and killed by an officer in 2014 with his hands up in surrender. However, an investigation by the US Department of Justice found this was false. In fact, Brown had robbed a store, punched an officer and attempted to disarm an officer. This is just one of many occurrences.
When the public consumes stories where the police have used unnecessary force, especially against minorities, many people start to fear or hate the police. However, sometimes the line between truth and false is blurred. Even reliable news sources can be wrong sometimes.
This inspired me to do even more research. It turns out that minorities, particularly black people, actually are more likely to be targeted by police. But is this really their fault? I think that this isn’t a problem of racism in policing, it’s a problem of racism in society. Everyone’s a little racist even when they have the best of intentions. The only way to face the problems in our justice system is to grow and change.
Thankfully, this is already starting as training programs are being set up for police officers, judges and other law enforcement throughout Canada. However, it is important for everyone to take action. We can’t ignore the problems we have, including the racism of pop culture and the overexpression of false or negative media, but we also can’t ignore the serious issues in our justice system, like the huge racial bias statistics and police brutality.
If you’ve held on this far in reading, thank you so much; it proves that you want to join the social change too. My Twitter account Policing Perceptions, which can be found at @policingp, highlights statistics and stories about police brutality and addresses the topic of racism in our society as a whole. Hopefully by spreading this around the media, more of the public will become aware of the problems in our justice system and throughout society, and join together to make a change.