Autumn and cops

It’s officially autumn in Manitoba. The days of sunny skies and sweltering humidity have been replaced with yellowing leaves and a chilly gloom. This summer saw unprecedented grassroots action around the world calling for accountability for police brutality and racism.

As the season changes, can we expect a change in atmosphere? Are governments listening to the popular calls for radical changes to law enforcement? Can we expect concrete policy change?

I wouldn’t bet on it.

Six months after the senseless killing of Breonna Taylor by three Louisville cops and repeated calls to arrest those officers, charges have finally been laid in relation to Taylor’s death. Only one of the officers was charged, not with murder or manslaughter, but with “wanton endangerment in the first degree.”

Closer to home, hopes for police reform and accountability are also grim. Our cover feature by city editor Alexandra Neufeldt this week examines the Winnipeg Police Board. An organization ostensibly created to regulate the Winnipeg Police Service, the board has instead continued overseeing police budget increases, along with incidents of police violence.

Volunteer writer Tessa Adamski also examines how demonstrations against police violence and racism have coincided with racist violence committed by civilians, both locally, nationally and abroad. This issue was brought to the forefront again this week when an anti-racism rally in Red Deer, Alta. had to be cancelled when demonstrators were brutally assaulted by organized fascists, white supremacists and other hate groups. Video of the rally show RCMP officers standing idly by, and the anti-racist activists claim that the RCMP has denied them the right to press charges against their attackers.

So, no, it’s not looking like this autumn will see a decline in the increasingly obvious connections between racism, violence and the police. Fingers crossed for winter.

Published in Volume 75, Number 03 of The Uniter (September 24, 2020)

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