The spread of political unrest in countries around the world has prompted fears about the escalation of political violence in democratic societies.
There is a theory that political violence is something that democracy must stop and if it does it will be corrected by the practice of voting, protection of individual rights by courts or civil disobedience.
The examples of Jamaica and the US reject this proposal.
Right-wing and left-wing elements have been fighting for a long time since the 1980s, which often escalated into violence. Violence has now turned into economic crimes driven by the drug trade in South Florida.
According to the Minister of National Security, Dr. Horace Chang, until Jamaica becomes a police state, a state of emergency is necessary. A police state is one in which additional power is exercised through the power of the police force.
Democracy is still intact but the cost is high. Jamaica was listed in a recent report as having the highest rate of homicides (including murders by police) in the US and the Caribbean. http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20210131/jamaica-tops-homicides-latin-america-and-caribbean.
United States of america
The summer of 2020 saw protests and sporadic violence in several US cities following the police killings of African Americans George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
Some, including many who are now protesting in the streets, argue that the American policing system is inconsistent with democratic ideals.
New President Joe Biden was installed in celebration surrounded by a sea of barbed wire and 26,000 heavily armed soldiers. Military soldiers parade the streets as police officers, SWAT teams execute warrants at night without knocking (especially in communities of color), while people in these communities are disproportionately absorbed by the world’s largest prison system .
We have seen internet censorship and regulations on the media to curb the intensification of Trumpism and some recommend new dramatic terrorist laws and even policies to divert the minds of Trump supporters on the left.
It remains to be seen whether the 2020 demonstrations will resolve long-standing issues of racial injustice or turn into civil war. Two factors indicate that the trend is in favor of the former:-
First, today’s protesters are more interracial than in the past including African Americans, Latinos and whites as police target all races with rubber bullets and tear gas.
Second, the geography of violence is different today as wealthy city malls and global chains are under attack, not just low-income neighborhoods.
Costs related to acts of armed militia, censorship and police brutality such as loss of life, damage to property and additional violence add up. Politicians are tempted to invoke emergency powers to reduce these costs, but they are necessarily short-term solutions. What is needed is to target more investment to communities that promote democracy and build community resilience.
February 27, 2021