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Uvalde, Buffalo, Guyana and policing

Uvalde, Buffalo, Guyana and policing


Dear Editor

This is not who was right or who was wrong, but what is reasonable, because it speaks to consistency. While the anger and grief still swirl around Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde Texas, the actions of local law enforcement in two far apart communities are enlightening. They raise questions, they emphasize that fears are not farfetched, and they leave us trust under siege once again.

In Buffalo, 10 Black Americans are machine-gunned by a young White American, and somehow the alleged killer is still alive, despite a swarming hornet’s nest of defenders of the law. I cannot help but speculate about if the construction, meaning complexion, of the killer had something to do with the fact that he was allowed to surrender, the great and commendable restraint manifested. In terms of training and procedures followed, it seems that there was none of those baffling breaches that we hear of every so often, when others are involved. I proceed some more, and wonder about the victims themselves, the demographic reputation of the community, and if that, too, had something to do with the lesser aggression demonstrated by the Buffalo police personnel on the scene.

In traveling to Uvalde, Texas, the circumstances are parallel but with an eerie and alarming twist. It is a community on the US-Mexican border, and has a heavy Hispanic concentration. The hitherto unknown (to the world) Robb Elementary School had to be well-known to the Uvalde police in terms of its composition, meaning the overwhelming percentage of its students (perhaps, teachers also) were of a non-Eurocentric heritage. Again, the unnerving question arises: what did that have to do with the reluctance of the police personnel present to take the most life-saving action possible? Not for themselves, as it turned out to be, but for those trapped little ones. I discard that this had anything to do with lack of courage, absence of training, or deficiency of adequate firepower. I discard also all this law enforcement officialese about “active shooter” and “barricaded situation” and the rest of that bureaucratic polyglot.

Instead, I limit myself to these: why not? Why so long? Why the fatal hesitation? Would the situation/response have been the same in a differently constituted community, a more prestige institution of learning? If any answers ever come from inquiries like those, they are sure to be hedged, defensive, and unconvincing.

Editor, these anxiety-inducing circumstances are probed because of what we live with here, re: law enforcement. At different times under different regimes, the complaints and laments have been characterised by what is deemed to be racial or political; sometimes both of those toxins.

Phones ringing off the hook, response times, communities neglected, officers either slothful, purposely inefficient, or derelict, and never any persuasive, enduring remedies following. Today the charges are of manipulation, double standards, as in haste and hostility toward some, but coddling and condoning for others. Our police have been taken to task, many times rightly; our police have been used and misused, and usually for the worst of purposes. Everybody is talking, and everyone knows what I am talking about. I notice the hullabaloo over “Baderation” and I limit myself to two things. First, another group would not have been given ‘official clearance’ (police), not with that lyrical history, not with this society’s polarity. And, second, in the subsequent shots and cyber snapshots, that’s an awful amount of guns around, however extrapolated, statistically extended.

When I observe law enforcement operating in this manner-be it Buffalo, Uvalde, Minnesota, or Guyana-then all the talk about freedom, democracy, and what is fair and of justice all come tumbling down. This is my stance. I wonder where other Guyanese stand.

GHK Lall