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After the death of George Floyd - "There is no place in the police for people without compassion"

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In the US city of Minneapolis, the state of emergency has been in effect since yesterday. The death of the African American George Floyd, who died after a brutal arrest by police officers, sparked such violent protests that the governor had to activate the National Guard.

Cases of blatant police violence in the USA keep making headlines. This has a lot to do with the fact that many police departments lack a culture of ethical standards, says security advisor Cedric Alexander. Police officers must be selected more carefully, guided more closely and better accompanied than they are today.

Cedric Alexander

Security advisor

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The African American knows the situation of the black population as well as that of the police. Cedric Alexander is a security advisor and has served for several years as the chief of police for Rochester, New York and a suburb of Atlanta. He was also a member of a task force that advised the Obama administration on police work.

SRF News: As a former police chief, can you describe the situation the Minneapolis police are in at the moment?

Cedric Alexander: They are in a very difficult situation. You are currently working long, strenuous shifts. You are stressed and afraid. Because they are responsible for ensuring that more people and buildings are not harmed. And their approach is observed extremely critically. Minneapolis and the whole world are watching.

What immediate consequences do you think the George Floyd case should have in the US Police Corps?

We must ensure that perpetrators of the beating of the officers who caused the death of George Floyd are promptly removed from the police force.

People's anger is understandable.
Author: Cedric AlexanderSafety Advisor

People who do not show compassion when a man is handcuffed to the ground and gasping for air until he is passed out have no place in the police. The anger people feel at this behavior is understandable.

And what needs to be improved in the US in the long term in police work?

We have to take a closer look at who we are recruiting for the police: what kind of people are they? Do you have a moral compass? Can you empathize with other people? Do you have a feel for when toughness is appropriate? Because there are situations in which you have to take tough action. But they must never look the other way when someone needs help. There's no place for that in the police - nowhere in the world.

Does that mean: the training of police officers must also improve?

Police officer training in this country is already good, even if there is still room for improvement. In my opinion, the culture that prevails in the police departments is much more important.

A culture is needed where prejudice and abuse have no place.
Author: Cedric AlexanderSafety Advisor

Police officers must be guided and accompanied more closely than they are today. A culture is needed that is based on ethical standards and where prejudice and mistreatment of people have no place.

And violations of these ethical standards must also have consequences?

Yes, anyone who violates this will be dismissed. But unfortunately there are still many police departments that lack this culture of ethical standards. Or superiors simply look the other way and do not intervene in the event of misconduct. In doing so, however, they make themselves accomplices.

For years there has been public outcry whenever cases of police brutality against black people become known. And yet it happens again and again. Are you confident that something will really change this time around?

Hopefully something will change. But hope is not enough. All social forces are needed to prevent such terrible incidents from happening again. Because, they're not just a black problem - they're an American problem. Everyone in this country has to contribute to the solution.

The interview was conducted by Matthias Kündig.

more on the subject

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You can hear more about this topic tonight in “Echo der Zeit” at 6 p.m. on SRF 1 and SRF 4 News and at 7 p.m. on SRF 2.

Echo of the time from 05/30/2020; srf / acka; widb

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  • Comment from Daniel Bucher (DE)
    There are more blacks and Hispanics in American prisons than whites. Probably the police officers respond to certain customer groups with less empathy and compassion, because they have made the experience that this is ultimately more dangerous for them. Is it also racism if in percentage terms a lot more whites are killed by blacks than the other way around? Every story has two sides. It depends from which perspective you look at it.
    Agree agree to the comment
  • Comment from Alois Keller (eyko)
    Anti-racism protests keep the US under control. Curfews and appeals have hardly any effect: riots broke out again in American cities after the death of the black George Floyd. This is a country in chaos. Protesting against such brutality is right and necessary, but should take place without violence and looting. Racism and police violence against black people are unfortunately part of everyday life in the United States. Trump threatens and continues: My government will stop them coldly.
    Agree agree to the comment
  • Comment from Reto Blatter (against mainstream)
    Interestingly enough, there is only so much media coverage and concerned comments when the riots affect the United States. I still remember the race riots in London or the French banlieus. There was no talk of racist presidents or prime ministers. Nobody wrote about slavery or colonialism. No one accused the police officers concerned of being racists. But when it comes to the US, everything is different.
    Agree agree to the comment
    1. answer from Lukas Gubser (Mastplast)
      Europe is good too and America is bad.
      Agree agree to the comment
    2. answer from Albert Planta (Plal)
      Gubser: not America, the Donald Trump regime :-(
      Agree agree to the comment
    3. Show answers

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