That it’s needed is a message that’s neither being heard nor preached.
I watched the newly-released video of the Bridgeton shooting and TV coverage of a gathering of community activists afterwards protesting the death. Watching both, I felt vast separation between the two camps. See, I continually hear proponents stressing the need for police reform but I don’t hear any suggestions concerning what we can do to force the issue.
An oft-used phrase heard during this past decade-plus of warfare is that America has to “win the hearts and minds” of the civilian populations that it erroneously harms during active conflict and occupation.
Under the Foreign Claims Act, such civilians have recourse for compensation for damages caused by U.S. troops. However, the law doesn’t cover what occurs during active combat. This is where solatia comes to bear.
America began awarding condolence payments early in the Iraq war. Such expenditures only began in Afghanistan in 2005 from cash funded by Congress. Before that, such solatia payments generally came out of a unit’s operating budget.
Currently in Afghanistan, condolence payments can be up to $5,000 for a death or injury or $5,000 for property damage. In certain cases they can be much higher and in fiscal year 2012, the U.S. made 219 payments, totaling $891,000 (ProPublica).
But as another civilian grand jury refuses to indict another police officer for the death of another unarmed black man, I wonder just how hard our government is trying to win the hearts and minds of African-Americans involved in situations such as those in Ferguson or New York. Continue reading