Objective evidence is a huge equalizer to achieving justice, not just in assessment of motor vehicle collisions but in far wider circles.
Can we imagine what the situation would have been like if there was no one to videotape the murder of George Floyd? Or even the less consequential, even though disgusting, treatment of the Toronto Raptors basketball team President Masai Ujiri last year after his celebrations were corrupted by a bullying security officer? It was the ability to provide an objective account of these events via videotape that allowed everyone the opportunity see what actually transpired, rather than what someone would be willing to convince us of what transpired. We spend many years of life molding the filters of bias upon our personal mirror such that it reflects only what we wish to see. And in many of us there is no blindness greater than of those who refuse to see.
Unfortunately, these events have also taken place in the realm of motor vehicle collision analysis and judgment. Police and courts that have accepted the subjective evidence of witnesses who have claimed to see things without objective verification. The danger of such actions has been known and warnings have existed for decades, yet there has been no change. We are now, possibly, at a crossroad where the calls for change may require that objective evidence, such as that provided by videotape, be brought into the assessment.
Similarly, the data from event data recorders (“black boxes”) has been available to the select few since the year 2000. Yet the average driver, or vehicle owner, has had no chance of obtaining that data in their own defence – it is merely used by those who have deep pockets and who can afford the costs of the hardware and consulting fees to obtain the data. Government agencies, research institutes, insurers and police have had the opportunity to use that data but not the average citizen.
There are many persons today that are walking, or lying, in the shoes of George Floyd and Masai Ujiri. And not necessarily because their skin is black but because they are victimized. They are victimized because it is our choice to remain silent. They are victimized because they do not have the resources to defend themselves. If we are truly objective we will recognize that victimization knows no bounds in colour of skin, race, sexual orientation and so many other divisions of life. In that regard individual members of the police can also be just as victimized. But it is the police culture toward the black community that must change. It is many other cultures that also must change.
In our view the only one of the two who can speak right now, Ujiri, has provided a profound statement that we are compelled to repeat below:
“The video sadly demonstrates how horribly I was treated by a law enforcement officer last year in the midst of my team, the Toronto Raptors, winning its first world championship. It was an exhilarating moment of achievement for our organization, for our players, for our city, for our country, and for me personally, given my long-tenured professional journey in the NBA. Yet, unfortunately, I was reminded in that moment that despite all of my hard work and success, there are some people, including those who are supposed to protect us, who will always and only see me as something that is unworthy of respectful engagement. And, there’s only one indisputable reason why that is the case – because I am Black.
What saddens me most about this ordeal is that the only reason why I am getting the justice I deserve in this moment is because of my success. Because I’m the President of a NBA team, I had access to resources that ensured I could demand and fight for my justice. So many of my brothers and sisters haven’t had, don’t have, and won’t have the same access to resources that assured my justice. And that’s why Black Lives Matter.
And that’s why it’s important for all of us to keep demanding justice. Justice for George. Justice for Breonna. Justice for Elijah. Justice for far too many Black lives that mattered. And justice for Black people around the world, who need our voice and our compassion to save their lives.
Those are the ties that bind us.”