Thursday 3 December, 2020

NOW President explains decolonialising, not simply defunding police

Members of the Royal Barbados Police Force at a recent Black Lives Matter Protest outside the US Embassy in June. (FILE)

Members of the Royal Barbados Police Force at a recent Black Lives Matter Protest outside the US Embassy in June. (FILE)

To achieve a change in policing, Barbados needs to start by changing the name of the Royal Barbados Police Force.

A local activist thinks there is more work to be done when it comes to our local policing to decolonialise the system.

Marsha Hinds-Layne says she sees merit in the calls to defund police abroad and thinks some aspects may be applicable to Barbados, but amidst questions of police underfunding locally, she said that defunding should take the form of decolonialisation here instead.

"Decolonoialisation calls for a rebuilding of our culture of policing that does not depend on the same problematic frame that existed before," the NOW President said.

The concept of defunding the police is being seen as a radical step with some abroad calling for a full disbanding of police forces to reestablish new forms of law enforcement that are less rooted in racism and traditional methods of policing.

In a recent interview with Loop News the head of the National Organization for Women (NOW) went on to state that the issues with the RBPF went beyond the ideas of funding.

"It is not that the police here are underfunded but that too much money is in the traditional areas of crime," Hinds-Layne said.

Photo caption: Marsha Hinds-Layne (FILE)

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But what exactly is Decolonialisation?

Marsha Hinds-Layne explains that the process must be rooted in providing a service to the people of Barbados, especially black women, as opposed to its current framing of being representative of the crown.

Hinds-Layne said:

"The first thing we have to do is change the name.

We will have to rename the police force because, by its very nature it does not serve the people of this country, and having a Barbados Police Service will instill the confidence in those doing this work that they are working for the people of Barbados." 

She also believes that there must be attention paid towards how police officers are treated in their jobs.

"Making sure that police in Barbados are well and properly paid is one step.

"At current it is a colonial relic. Putting the best house nigga to work for a wage that will never let him have a proper house and take care of a proper injury. Independent access to investigations into the police, as well as making sure that police have access to mental health and psychological services will also largely change the way that policing is done," she stated.

Many of the concerns she laid out around the current state of policing on the island involved the harsh treatment of people in police-related matters, as well as issues of police brutality and their disregard of calls for independent access into investigations of police.

When asked about providing data on these issues, namely the results of the investigations into members of the Force, the NOW President pointed towards a lack of access to this information by said police and the justice system as a clear need for this same restructuring.

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