Thursday 9 July, 2020

NOW President makes a call to 'Defund the police' in Barbados

Marsha Hinds-Layne, President of the National Organization for Women

Marsha Hinds-Layne, President of the National Organization for Women

A local black activist and women's rights advocate is saying that Barbados should heed the lessons of the United States and look towards restructuring the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF). 

President of the National Organization for Women (NOW), Marsha Hinds-Layne spoke to Loop News on whether the ideas of defunding or abolishing the police had any applicability to Barbados' law enforcement.



Video caption: Police Briefing 2020 - Deputy COP 'We have never taken off our gloves in the fight against crime!'


Hinds-Layne said she believes that there is racism in Barbados and asserted that for example, Barbados' systemic racism is present within our law enforcement and justice system. But she contended that even if the country is to abolish the systems there must be a better plan in place to rebuild them.  

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"There are two institutions where you can see the clear remnants of institutional racism in Barbados - in the police and court system. Abolishing the police is the easy work but the harder work is how do we build that back?" Marsha Hinds-Layne said.


The two hashtags - #DefundThePolice and #AbolishThePolice are both at the centre of many conversations online


But what do these phrases mean?


The call is for the slice of the economic pie given to police to be sliced thinner and shared across other sectors.


Activists are asking for funding normally given to law enforcement agencies to be redistributed to social services such as youth services, housing, welfare, education, and mental health facilitators without total elimination of law enforcement. 


But how would this apply to Barbados? 


Much of America's struggles with policing are rooted in its history of slavery, and this has caused what some believe to be an imbalance in the racial tensions involved in policing of the country. 


However, even with Barbados' established history, in a majority-black population the ideas of systemic racism in policing present themselves differently.  



The NOW President believes that one of the most prominent manifestations of systemic racism is in the treatment of Black women at the hands of law enforcement. 

"When it comes to the treatment of the Black female body in Barbados there is no greater need for [defunding the police] ...The treatment of women who come for social services and even those women whose partners and children have been killed in police-related matters are more than enough cause to re-examine our system," Marsha Hinds-Layne said.

And she understands hers may be an unpopular opinion, but she is adamant that the change is necessary and long overdue. 

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