Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah is a faculty member at the University of Toronto, Mississauga with expertise in the area of race and policing. This piece, published in The Walrus, draws on his dissertation research. The complete piece is available at The Walrus. The following is an excerpt of the longer article:
Teaching Police that Black Lives Matter
Black officers on how police and black communities can get along.
In 2011 and 2012, I interviewed fifty-one black male police officers from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), as part of a wide-ranging academic project aimed at surveying black attitudes toward the police. They spoke to me candidly but confidentially. I agreed not to publish their names or identifying details.
At one stage of my interviews, I asked these officers to put forth suggestions on how to improve relations between the police and the black community in the GTA. Given the robust public discussion that is now taking place in regard to the Black Lives Matter movement—and this month’s tragic killings of both innocent black men and police officers in the United States—it is worth exploring these suggestions in some detail. These suggestions are unique as they are informed by the officers’ experiences as black males and their immersion in police culture. Both perspectives are evident in the text below.
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