Editorial note: a group of Men’s Human Rights Activists unaffiliated with AVfM, led by Chandrapal Bhasker, recently submitted this to us for publication via Facebook. Most of the signers are from outside the United States. –Eds
We the undersigned, members of the Men’s Human Rights Movement (MHRM) want to express our support for and solidarity with the citizens of Ferguson, Missouri in light of the recent violence there. Mike Brown was a young man who lost his life needlessly at the hands of a police officer and it is our intention to condemn the Ferguson police for their illegal and immoral violence against him. Brown was well loved by his family and friends and we would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge their grief, offer our deepest condolences.
A community ought to be able to trust in its leadership and police to protect it from danger. When the governmental authority and law enforcement of a community forget who they serve, we lose sight of this country’s founding principles of freedom and equality and inevitably head for institutional violence. This tragedy and others like it in recent memory like the deaths of Trayvon Martin in Florida, Eric Gardner in New York, and Kelly Thomas in California call into question the integrity of American policing and its various levels of leadership. Included in the MHRM’s concerns over integrity of leadership are the local, state, and federal legislatures which write and oversee the implementation of law and order.
In condoning and even promoting gender profiling on suspicion of crime, the possibility of racial profiling becomes inevitable. One must ask why such violence seems limited to male citizens and particularly black and poor / working-class white male citizens. One must also ask what consequences await men and boys of other racial identities if such violent profiling is allowed to continue unabated. Research suggests that 70% of street violence is experienced by males. Facts clearly indicate that most victims of police brutality and custodial deaths in the US are men. It is a shameful mockery of justice that the gender which constitutes most victims of the social violence is also targeted by the sworn protectors of the populace for horrendous individual and institutional violence.
One answer to the question of why this is the case is that men and adolescent boys are treated as potential threats and therefore as likely criminals rather than as allies in the community. In our increasingly anti-male, sexist and misandric societies male strength is mischaracterized as destructive rather than as protective or capable of good work on behalf of the community. Such prejudice often creates an environment of resentment and distrust between the police and the men of the community thus leading to a self-fulfilling judgment from one side to another. Some laws in particular support this prejudicial culture which can be discussed at another time.
It is most clear, however, that the racism of the history of the United States and of Missouri in this particular case has never truly faded from practice. When a mostly White police force has the authority to kill a Black man in a mostly Black community without evidence or reasonable cause and is not held criminally accountable, the parallels to the Jim Crow South are very obvious. Even post Jim Crow practices such as using real estate companies and migration restrictions to control the demographics of suburban districts can be credited with the segregation that can be observed in and around Ferguson. It is no surprise then that the police are more violent in the black communities and then claim that such neighborhoods are incidentally more deserving of police force.
Having said this, let it be noted that the MHRM does not condone the profiling of any race or class of people, but rather the just and accurate judgment of individuals and groups based on the merits of their actions. We do not wish to convey the idea that being White necessarily makes one guilty of racism. Instead we wish to point to the truth of this particular matter as an effort to warn against future tragedies of this sort.
Ultimately, the Men’s Human Rights Movement wants to see reform of law enforcement culture which will foster more peaceful community relations and conflict resolution. The “shoot first, ask questions later” approach ends the lives of men and hurts the hearts of their communities. The safety and rights of male citizens are no less important and worthy of care than those of anybody else. Mike Brown was a human being first, not a suspect or a criminal. Humanity is humanity regardless of class, color, race, or gender.
Jordan Allen, Chief Liaison Officer, Gender Analytics Foundation
Chandrapal S Bhasker, Gender Analytics Foundation
Zachery Lorentz, Founder & Host, Untermensch Podcast
Yuan Hua Lim, President, Singapore Men & Family Welfare Organization
Deborah Kendrick, Founder, Words Within The Walls
Photo by Lovesofbread. –Eds