Governmental approach to address Black Lives Matter movement

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Introduction

The recent increased extrajudicial killings that have claimed lives of the Black Americans have triggered public and civil rights outrage. As a result, there has been an outburst of civil rights groups on the Black Lives Matter Movement that is premised on bringing this issue into the limelight. Black Lives Matter is a social movement that gained momentum upon the acquittal of George Zimmerman who was facing charges for shooting an unarmed black teenager (Tolliver et al., 2016). Since then, the movement has grown to be an ideological and political wave that seeks to promote social justice concerning the extrajudicial killings that have been meted out on the blacks. The Black Lives Matter Movement continues to agitate for an immediate solution to the extrajudicial killings and indiscriminate arrests. Some observers argue that the movement could stir social and political processes that result in an incremental process. Although the supporters of the movement would like to see the problem resolved amicably, it is certain that change will come through some smaller successes.

Analysis

According to Edwards and Harris (2015), there has been a constant growth in the criminal justice system in America over the past forty years. The culture of punishment in part has been viewed to be driven by political and social interests. Unfortunately, police and civilians shootings have been rampant among blacks compared to whites. This pattern has also been seen in the drug trafficking arrests and convictions and mass incarceration of the blacks for other petty offenses more than the whites. The recent protest dubbed “Black Lives Matter” has triggered racial questions about the law enforcement personnel for spewing racial hatred by selective shooting. While it is established that crime should be subjected to the law, the destructive effects of massive injustice in punishment and incarceration are visited disproportionately upon individuals and communities based on their skin color. Failure to address the issues raised by this sociopolitical movement will paint a negative image of the government’s commitment to fostering the rule of law.

While recognizing this discrimination in the application of the extrajudicial law, the government has been slow to enforce the rule of law by punishing offenders. Leveraging community and police officers’ loss of trust and confidence requires a robust policy framework. Civil rights activists have been at the forefront of petitioning the state and federal governments to pass substantive laws that will deter this massive incarceration and shooting (Shor, 2015). With the help of lawmakers, several movements have come up with various ways of addressing the shooting and the skewed incarceration of the blacks. The government response in the midst of the Black Lives Matter Movement has been arguably a knee-jerk reaction. Addressing rising social and political unrest should focus on examining the incremental effects of mass actions and protests.

Shor, (2015) states that the application of the incremental policy approach offers the best opportunity to streamline the movement’s goals and objectives. Notably, the civil rights groups often present radical measures that are driven by intentions to punish the perpetrators of these crimes against the blacks. Such remedies can only provide a short-term solution while failing to address the issues underneath. While the supporters of the movement would wish to see a significant step that will eradicate the problem being taken, such remedies do not exist. Because of this, the government should focus on a gradual, but systematic policy implementation that will eliminate the insensitive actions meted out on the Black Americans.

The incremental policy output is a model that focuses on gradually increased decision-making, bounded rationality, and limited cognition. Some experts call this approach “muddling through” because it represents a conservative tendency of approaching an issue from a safer point of view. This approach acknowledges that change results from every small and consistent step taken by the movement. The incremental approach aims at ensuring a smooth transition of the culture, perception, and norms within conflicts existing between the police force and the community. Moreover, addressing issues raised by the movement requires a slow and incremental process that will culminate in a comprehensive protective policy, community collaboration with law enforcement agencies, and reduced racial profiling. The aggressive and radical protests that have hit numerous cities across the U.S may result in counterproductive movement that will jeopardize the long-term goals of the rule of law.

Training of the police officers who conduct arrests or deter crimes on the sociopolitical consequences of extrajudicial killings will help reduce irrational reactions from the police officers (Kirk, 2011). Coupled with police training and education programs, accountability should be enforced to the rogue police officers or licensed firearms holders whose actions are deemed to revert the rule of law. Aligning the Black Lives Matter Movement with the public safety strategies expands the policy purview in responding to the discrimination within the criminal justice system. The long-term goals of this movement are to address access to the equitable distribution of resources, quality education, healthcare, and criminal justice systems to address the perception of the police towards the minority groups. Additionally, the policy has to focus on the rehabilitation of crime gangs rather than the current punitive measures that dominate the legal systems. Fostering equality in the resources and ensuring quality healthcare and education to the minority and low-socioeconomic groups have incremental effects of reducing the crime rates and subsequently extrajudicial killings.

Within the tenets of an incremental approach, both the states and the federal government must work together to create a multidisciplinary agency that objectively addresses cases of extrajudicial killing. The creation of a neutral expert committee to investigate the issues provides baseline information that will guide subsequent actions (Ross, 2015). Besides, the community should be put in the forefront of the decision-making so as to foster partnership in crime detection and deterring offenders. Rather than driving the movement into political-like activism, the positive incremental milestone will be achieved by integrating religious, political, and community leaders into this movement. The overall goal of inclusive is to ensure issues are addressed soberly and objectively through a formal and community engagement approach. The incremental approach seeks to examine various dimensions of an issue and highlight areas that can be achieved within short-term and those that require long-term plans.

Based on the conflicting goals, the government should ensure that the grievances of the movement are captured in a detailed step-by-step policy guideline. Each of the issues raised which include massive incarceration, extrajudicial killings, and arrests must be seen to be put into national agenda. The initial goal of the movement was to bring the extrajudicial killings of the blacks into focus, however, due to the failure of the government to demonstrate commitment, the movement is increasingly becoming disruptive. The inclusion of the legislators in this strategy to address this sociopolitical issue cannot be underscored. Within the government, the incremental step involves spearheading Congress and Senate discussions that centers on recognizing the problems raised by the movement and addressing them comprehensively.

While it is not possible to handle the socioeconomic disparity within the short term, Ross, (2015) observes that the immediate legislation should target at ensuring justice to the offenders of extrajudicial killings. Besides, there should be policies to safeguard the distribution of firearms to civilians and regulate shooting orders among the police. One of the critical steps that will help address the issues raised by the movement is dispossessing illegal firearms from civilians, fostering responsible use of the guns by the police, and mitigating on the causes of crimes. These issues cannot be achieved by a single agency of even punitive legislations. The success of the movement will be accomplished in the long run if there is a systematic approach to the police brutality, civilians shooting and addressing the use of force when arresting or deterring crimes. These issues are multifaceted and small and bigger initiatives must come from the law enforcement officers, legislators, and community.

The Black Lives Matter Movement should be premised on a sound policy framework that seeks to repair the damage reputation between the police officers and the Black Africans. Because of the predisposition of the black residents to crimes and drug trafficking, police officers have been reported to employ an extrajudicial approach in arresting and deterring crimes. There is a nuanced agreement to eliminate crime and criminal gangs, but there has been a poor partnership to achieve this noble goal. This is another area of an incremental policy approach that brings together the community and law enforcement officers. Collaboration in fighting drug abuse, illegal firearms, and other forms of crimes is an essential feature that the government should adopt so as to foster a positive relationship between police officers and all racial groups.

Conclusion

With robust profiling of the Black Lives Matter Movement, it is evident that there has been a poor response on the government side to mitigate grievances. Given the radical nature of civil right issues, an incremental approach offers the best alternative of incorporating the grievances into actionable policies. Formation of a neutral intergovernmental agency to investigate the issues, promoting police-community partnership, and training the police on the use of force are some of the critical steps that will be a game-changer in the long run. Each of these small steps will increasingly address extrajudicial killings, and social injustices meted on the blacks.

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  1. Edwards, S. B., & Harris, D. (2015). Black Lives Matter. Nieman Reports, (Vol. 69). http://doi.org/10.1177/1095796015620171.
  2. Kirk, J. A. (2011). The Black Power Movement: Rethinking the Civil Rights-Black Power Era. Journal of Contemporary History, 46(2), 425–436. http://doi.org/10.4324/9780203954928
  3. Ross, C. T. (2015). A multi-level Bayesian analysis of racial bias in police shootings at the county-level in the United States, 2011-2014. PLoS ONE, 10(11). http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0141854
  4. Shor, F. (2015). “Black Lives Matter”: Constructing a New Civil Rights and Black Freedom Movement. New Politics, 15(3), 28–32.
  5. Tolliver, W. F., Hadden, B. R., Snowden, F., & Brown-Manning, R. (2016). Police killings of unarmed Black people: Centering race and racism in human behavior and the social environment content. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 26(3-4), 279–286. http://doi.org/10.1080/10911359.2015.1125207
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