Thursday, August 25, 2011

mad, bad and sad

Evidence can be a terrible thing. We know that Māori and pasifika peoples are more likely to come to the attention of the police and now we also know that they get tazered by the police a lot more than others - how much more?

During the 11 months to August 9, police tasered 88 people including:
* Maori: 35
* Pacific Islanders: 16
* Europeans: 35
* Asians: 1
The introduction of Tasers was bitterly opposed by the Maori Party and the Greens with the Maori Party's Hone Harawira and the Greens' Mr Locke both raising concerns their use would reflect police "racism". Mr Locke yesterday said the latest statistics raised a number of issues about the weapons. "Certainly they're being fired disproportionately at Maori. The reasons for that are something we should look into."Mr Locke was also concerned that police were too quick to use Tasers on people with mental health issues - 58 during the 11-month period.
Mana Party spokeswoman Annette Sykes said that despite Mr Harawira's warning "there has been this disproportionate outcome for Maori and Polynesian individuals which is a sad indictment on us".
But police and their minister, Judith Collins, say the figures merely reflect the "sad fact" that Maori are over-represented in crime statistics.
Yes it is a 'sad fact' but what does that fact mean and where does it come from. For collins it means add more police, more weapons, more jails and more arrests but those responses do not address the issue. There is fundamental institutional racism at play here - and if you know that there is an issue and you choose to ignore it then you are actually supporting it. Governments know about this issue, highlighted by these tazer statistics, and have not addressed it because it does not suit their agenda to. They prefer this situation and you may wonder why - blame is one reason, it is always good to have a group to blame for things and the distorted history of this country offers the indigenous people as an established blameworthy group, as happens in many colonised countries. It is not us, it is them - it is those 'others'. To fix this situation requires more than a band aid.

I am sick to death of our people getting tazered and arrested, fingerprinted even though they have no conviction, and put in prison. I am sick to death of this institutional racism and the compounding effects of the Crowns continuted ignorance of their role as a true partner to Māori. We need to change some things and change them fast. Politically I am putting my faith in Mana - they will put a stick in the spokes to stop this and create opportunities to work on solutions. And I see constituitonal change as being essential.


Anonymous said...

how are they targeting Maori when the same amount of Europeans were tasered as Maori?

Marty Mars said...

It's the relative numbers compared to percentage of population for the identified groups.

It's out of proportion. And unfortunately most indigenous populations face the same issue.