Hate and racism crimes are globally on the rise, a fact that runs counter to the rapid evolution that is supposed to take place in education, society and technology. Beyond the causes, however, one wonders what could have prevented such acts. The obvious general and long-term solution is education. However, in real-time crime, what or who could prevent them?
Given the thought of the assassination of George Floyd in America by police forces, but also of Zak Kostopoulos in Athens, they could possibly have been prevented by those who witnessed these two brutal crimes. Could the witnesses change the course of the event? Were they active or just passive and non-participating observers?
According to research, the intervention of those present is being reduced in such crimes. Darley and Latane called that phenomenon a diffusion of responsibility, noting that the more people there are, the less likely they are to ask for help. Nevertheless, what is it that ultimately replaces the inherent pro-social behavior and innate tendency of the individual to mutual aid with the idle remote observation of a crime? Is it the fear of being caught and involved? Is it his conformity with the indifferent crowd? Or a series of stereotypical notions?
Taking as an example our own Zak Kostopoulos, at the critical moment when one could have prevented the deadly outcome, they did not do it and hesitated, falling prey to the unreasonable violence and arbitrary power; with ones unconscious pretexts or conscious decisions, that lead to his death. And the ostensible power of those present, the ones that could intervene, was diminished by the perceptions created concerning his identity. Should not the legal right in life be the same for all people, regardless their race, color, sexual orientation, identity, personal characteristics and religion?
Yes, indeed, the responsibilities are shared among the witnesses, the perpetrator, the victim, but the common denominator remains the inalienable and inviolable right of every human being to life. It is our responsibility to protect it in every way and by every means, both for ourselves and for our fellow human beings, setting our personal views and ideologies aside and aiming to claim and ensure the maximum possible equality and freedom.
Written by Lina Kakaidi
Translated by Angeliki Tsoukaneli