MINNEAPOLIS is embarking on an interesting social experiment in the wake of the alleged murder of George Floyd by a policeman.
There are proposals to defund the city’s police department and replace it with community-based policing, more social workers and increased outreach and treatment of drug users.
This is not the first time a force has seen itself restricted after a controversial failure of policing. And problems arise when such restrictions compromise public safety.
In the wake of the Macpherson Report on the botched investigation by the Metropolitan Police into the 1993 murder of 19-year-old black Londoner Stephen Lawrence by racist thugs, measures such as stop-and-search were scaled back.
By 2007, the teenage murder rate was rising as knife crime increased. Children were being stabbed to death who would have otherwise lived had there not been a politicisation of policing.
I recall listening to BBC Radio 4 and frequently hearing of a shooting in London when the newsreader would state that the crime was being investigated by Operation Trident. This was code for ‘Yes, gun crime is increasing in London, but it is all gangland shootings’.
Operation Trident was tasked with addressing gun offences by black criminals. The deaths were never the main news item and were announced in the same bland tone used for sectarian killings in Ulster in the 1970s, as if acknowledging that the crime happened, but that it was not a real worry. The London gun deaths were rarely seen as headline material, and then only if a child or woman had been killed.
The rise in London murders is fuelled by the territorialism of gangs, with no-go areas and curfews being imposed on black teenage boys by the mobs. That has to impair life chances, but it is never acknowledged to the same degree, as the Government is vaguely but vociferously blamed.
In the US, the main victims of any increased crime in Minneapolis will probably be African-Americans. It is ironic that there are protests when one of their number is killed by a rogue policeman, but never when what is termed a ‘civilian’ is murdered by a gangster.
It is in this context that the whole Black Lives Matter movement is questionable. The police deter and investigate crime and arrest its perpetrators, and it is a matter for debate if any replacement organisation can do the same, especially if it is to be staffed with social workers of one kind or another.
The worst part of all this is that the UK is not the US but the protests here imply that it is. The focus on the rare deaths of black men at the hands of police diverts attention from the much more prevalent gang killing of black teenage boys such as 14-year-old Corey Junior Davis in Forest Gate, east London, about whose death there is no campaign by any politician or pressure group.
Why this is so is a matter for debate. Perhaps it is because the death of a middle-aged man at the hands of a rogue cop in another country routinely disliked by ‘progressives’ is more important to political activists than the death of a British teenager blasted by a shotgun on the streets of London.
But we are still told that black lives matter. It seems clear that to activists some black lives matter more than others.
The police cannot win. If they stop a gangster on his way to kill, they are denounced as racist killers and spark public disorder. If they do nothing, they are permitting a murder epidemic in the capital. The avoidance of public disorder seems to be costing lives in London.
The problem is that racial politics is predicated on the notion that we live in a racist society and that racism is on the increase. Neither is true. But emotive accusations take less time to articulate than do their fact-based rebuttals and there is rarely discussion anywhere of the consequences for communities that refuse consent to be policed.
So there would seem to be people alive today in Minneapolis who will die as a consequence of a politically-correct initiative. It remains to be seen how many will have to lose their lives before the city fathers realise they have made a gross mistake.