I keep waiting for all those good cops out there to do something. I’ve been told time and again that there are way more good cops than bad. So where are they? And if they’re not going to stand up now, how can they still be good cops?
The past few days following the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis have been gut-wrenching. I can’t imagine how heartbreaking and scary it must be to be black in America right now, so I won’t try to describe it. Instead, you should go read my colleague Jamil Ragland’s powerful, bleak column, “Why Am I Writing This?”
Thousands of people all around the country have braved the coronavirus to go out and protest police brutality against people of color. They’ve been met, in too many cases, with more police brutality.
Don’t believe me? It’s on video. If you feel like defending the police, take a look at these videos and ask yourself, is what the cops are doing justified in any way?
And how in the world can you justify cops standing by and doing nothing when angry, heavily-armed white men descended on state capitols all around the country a few weeks back to demand the reopening of the economy? No riot gear, no pepper spray, no tasers or violence.
Imagine how different the response would have been if that had been a crowd of heavily-armed black men and ask yourself, why?
It doesn’t take a genius to understand that there’s something fundamentally broken about policing in our country. But it also doesn’t take a genius to realize that we’re stuck in a loop. Police murder a black man out in the open, on video. There are protests, sometimes violence. There are calls for police reform. The police defenders crawl out of the woodwork. Protests eventually die down or are snuffed out. Life goes on.
And nothing has really changed.
The problem, as always, is that the police feed off of a racist system that lets those bad cops get away with arresting, hurting and killing people of color without provocation or reason. The problem goes all the way from politicians and prosecutors down to each and every white person in this country who isn’t standing up to demand change.
We should be infuriated that the high ideas of the Declaration of Independence, which states that we are all created equal, are being made a mockery by those sworn to protect and serve the public.
And I am. I’m angry, and I’m scared for my black friends and colleagues.
Change has to come. Here’s how government can start.
Republican lawmakers have been clamoring for a special session to evaluate the governor’s executive orders regarding COVID-19. This is not a bad idea — they can meet remotely and provide the balance between the executive and legislative branches that democracy requires. I have a feeling, though, that the legislature as a whole won’t have much to say about the governor’s executive orders, especially as the state starts to emerge from the worst of the virus.
So instead, let’s have a special session about police reform.
Let’s let the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus, which has championed police reform in the past, take the lead on crafting legislation to better protect communities. Let’s create citizen oversight committees that would evaluate instances of police violence. Let’s curb the power of problematic police unions, and make sure the cops are accountable to the public. Let’s train police better, and screen recruits in a smarter way. And let’s pass strict laws defining what is and what is not appropriate force.
Lastly, the legislature should make it tough for departments to not comply. If they don’t shape up, their funding gets cut and/or they get shut down and reorganized.
If that sounds harsh, remember, this is what the state has done about failing schools. Why shouldn’t we hold police to a higher standard?
I urge the legislature to call itself into session to deal with this problem. We can’t wait until the next black man dies at the hands of the police.
Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.
DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.