Dr. Gerald Horne, Moores Professor of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston, believes that the roots of police aggression lie in the US history. He thinks the United States should be re-educated about their history and stop treating their country as God's gift to humanity.
Sputnik: This is not the first time protests have been launched in the US over police aggression against unarmed people. What is the reason some police officers resort to these tactics?
Gerald Horne: Well, in order to answer that question, you need to know something about the history of the United States. And you need to know that the black people in United States were mostly brought here against their will and voluntarily to be enslaved. Many of them did not like being enslaved. And so they were in constant rebellion. And what that means is that that particular legacy continues to haunt the United States because black people, black men in particular, are seen is always on the verge of rebelling or committing some act that would violate the status quo. And the police job is to maintain the status quo. And so, therefore, you have this combustible situation involving people who stand out because of the colour of their skin or suspected of being always on the verge of committing some criminal act. And that leads to police then physically being aggressive towards them.
Sputnik: What would you say are the main issues with police in the US? What can be done by local authorities and the federal government to resolve this situation?
Gerald Horne: Well, first of all, I think there needs to be a different understanding of the history and reality of the United States.
There is a very naive and idealistic point of view regarding this country. Many people consider this to be God's gift to humanity. That is to say, the United States has this great gift to humanity. And it becomes very difficult for them to accept this stain that was slavery. And that description I just gave you. So what needs to happen in the first place is a reorientation on a mass level from childhood to adulthood of the history of the United States of America.
Sputnik: The situation within the US has already been characterised as 'polarised' by many, both within the country and abroad. How could this situation further influence this?
Gerald Horne: Well, it's going to further polarise the country already. You have had an uprising in Minneapolis. There were similar no lots of protest in Los Angeles and in Memphis. I think that these protests will probably continue. And I think that they will continue unless and until there is a greater recognition of the history of this country. That helps to produce such episodes. But again, in order to gain an accurate understanding of the history, people will have to dispense with and get rid of this idea that somehow the United States is the God's gift to humanity. And there's never been a country like it. And all of this is chauvinism that characterises the political culture of this country.
Sputnik: We have seen before that situations like this portray a certain image of US police officers, with many branding themas racists and pushing forward a certain stereotype regarding the police. What consequences have already resulted from this? What others can we expect to see?
Gerald Horne: Well, I think that the police don't want to be viewed as racist. They should stop killing black people. Number one, they ought to stop killing black people on camera. Number two. I mean, this is amazing. The police officer knew he was being filmed. He knew that there were cameras recording what he was doing. And he didn't stop! That may be the most stunning aspect of all. He thought that it was justifiable to kill a man while being filmed.
When the man has not been convicted of any crime, he's only been accused of a noncapital offence. That in itself is incredible.
Urge and encourage the international community to place more pressure on the US authorities. It's ironic that just yesterday the US Congress passed a bill to sanction China one year and 13 to one over allegations concerning Chinese human rights violations in western China. Somebody and I would hope it could be Russia or China or Cuba or Iran or Venezuela or even the European Union needs to propose sanctions against the United States authorities unless and until they stop killing their own citizens, particularly black citizens, without due process of law.