The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers led to mass protest in the United States over the past week. While the outcry was triggered by a single incident, the events represent a collision of four crises — institutionalised racism, economic inequality, militarised police and Donald Trump.
There are outright racists in the United States, but systemic bias is a much bigger problem. Among the classic examples, is the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act signed by President Ronald Reagan. It set automatic five-year minimum jail sentences for anyone caught possessing five grams of crack cocaine (a cheap form of the drug more likely used by the inner city African-Americans). To receive a comparable sentence for powdered cocaine (the same drug in a different form, but more likely used by wealthy white people) one needed to be caught with 500 grams. The law unsurprisingly meant African-Americans served long jail sentences for crimes their white counterparts might just pay a fine for, and it stayed on the books for 24 years — until Barack Obama changed it.
8. Jun 2020 at 11:20 | Benjamin Cunningham