Nothing justifies police brutality against suspected wrongdoers

Editor, Reference is made to Lonzen Rugira's article, "Is the American heart missing when it comes to its black citizens?" (The New Times, December 8).
Protests have rocked US cities over repeated killing of black youths by policemen. (Net)
Protests have rocked US cities over repeated killing of black youths by policemen. (Net)


Reference is made to Lonzen Rugira’s article, “Is the American heart missing when it comes to its black citizens?” (The New Times, December 8).

The problem is not integration or racism, but rather social ailments. All these cases shouldn’t be used as a prism through which one can analyse US social integration.

These cases consist of African Americans who are uneducated, from broken families and caught up in crimes. Then you have white as well as black law enforcement officers who are not well trained to deal with suspected criminal-citizens.

These are isolated cases, but still disturbing because of the way American cops have handled them.

You should rather talk about training American law enforcers on one hand, and overhauling African American social structure on another.

Rwandan police officers could have arrested all those American criminals without any loss of life, and that is called “appropriate training”.

Since US and Rwanda enjoy good bilateral cooperation, I guess the Rwandan officers could have a thing or two to share with their American counterparts, especially how to make a “non-lethal arrest”.

It’s very disturbing to see someone dying because of selling cigarettes illegally, in New York—a state notorious for drugs and weapon smuggling—and the justification from law enforcement is: He resisted an arrest!

In Rwanda, anyone can resist an arrest and still get arrested without loss of life or even bodily injuries.

Abdul-Rahman Ntaganda


Those African Americans recently gunned down (or choked to death in the case of Eric Garner in New York) by the cops in different parts of the country were unarmed and could in no way be termed “citizen-criminals”.

And even if the cops suspected any of their shooting victims of having committed a crime, since when have the police been given powers of the police, the courts and the executioner to determine from the looks of their target that they were guilty, to sentence them to death and then to execute them summarily?

And when the most common basis for that verdict and execution of sentence is solely the colour of the person (including for a 12-year-old child), then clearly something is very wrong.

Like the all too-frequent gun rampages in US schools, malls and other workplaces, the frequent gunning down of innocent black people by cops is just too much to simply be looked at as unfortunate incidents.

Some of us remember, for instance, the February 1999 gunning down of 23-year-old Guinean immigrant Amadou Diallo who was shot 41 times and killed by four New York City plain-clothed officers in front of his apartment.

Although all four were charged that time unlike now, they were still acquitted.

What does this tell us about American justice, at least if you are a black male—who also happens to be poor (an all too frequent combination)?

What is the likelihood that you might be gunned down by a policeman-policemen who have been taught to view any black male as potentially a “criminal”—rarely as a citizen, and that once shot dead that will be that since the system is designed to be highly protective of the police, including the most gun-happy? And yet the US has the means and the law to ensure that these never-ending tragedies stop.

What seems to be missing is political will, especially at the state, city and local levels to apply the law in such a way as to ensure the police (whose work we must acknowledge is frequently very dangerous in a highly-armed society with more guns in the private hands than the number of American citizens, including those of very dangerous criminals who would themselves not hesitate to gun down police officers) understand that they just can’t take the law into their own hands the way they too often do with deadly consequences—for innocent black people.

America needs to clean out this recurring stain from its reputation if it wants to be able to continue holding itself up as an example of a society of laws—which it does all the time—which others should emulate.

Mwene Kalinda