Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Armed Response Teams were racist

How racist were the Police's "Armed Response Teams"? Half of all the people they arrested or used force against were Māori:

Māori made up more than 50 percent of arrests and uses of force by members of the now-scrapped Armed Response Teams (ARTs), police data shows.

During the six-month trial, the armed teams went to more than 200 mental health and suicide threat incidents, more than a dozen cannabis offences, and even checked how 17 businesses were adhering to pandemic rules.


Of the 1651 offence or weapon incidents where a person's ethnicity was known, 51 percent were Māori, 36 percent Pākehā, 10 percent Pacific, less than 3 percent Asian and less than 1 percent Middle Eastern, Latin American or African.

There were 49 uses of force towards people; of which 53 percent were used against Māori people, 41 percent against Pākehā, and 4 percent against Pasifika.

16.5% of the population are Māori, so that's a pretty big disparity.

But its not just racism which is the problem, but also the sheer inappropriateness of using armed police for the jobs they were doing. Not just the traffic stops which were the majority of their duties - in addition to the mental health incidents and suicide threats mentioned above, they also turned up, with guns, to 746 family harm incidents. And then there's this:
One suicidal man was pepper sprayed. Others who were suicidal or in mental distress had Tasers presented towards them.

I'm appalled that people with health problems are threatened with chemical or electric torture. It smacks of C19th barbarism.

It is not appropriate for police to be responding to these calls with guns, tasers, pepper-spray and rubber bullets. Instead, we need specialist mental health teams to deal with them. As for how to pay for them, given that police are already doing it, we should take the money straight out of their budget. Defund the police, and fund something better.