Policing and Criminal Justice Reform
Here we are in 2021, mobilizing voters for another march to the polls after COVID-19 and civil unrest - precipitated by unchecked police brutality - have disproportionately rocked Black and brown communities. When the virus landed on us last spring, many of our lives, already impacted by the woeful lack of progress against systemic racism, were stymied by a lack of access to proper health care, economic upheaval brought about by the need to stay at home and the resulting business and job losses that marginalized communities feel first before any others. It was really not surprising then that a tinderbox was kindling last summer - especially in urban America, much like our community - when a Minnesota police officer used a chokehold on George Floyd that ultimately led to his death, captured on camera this time for all of us to see. And then, on the night of June 12, 2021, Rayshard Brooks died as a result of actions of an Atlanta police officer. Given the hope that some of placed in a progressive political ticket and the struggles many in our communities face demanding justice, it's clearly a moment of reckoning. At all levels we should adopt prompt and focused measures to understand and combat pervasive, systemic racism including, of course, policing and the criminal justice system. We all may see it differently but here are four practical starter solutions.
- Reject overly aggressive policing tactics, like "stop and frisk" or those typically used that involve contacting, stopping, searching large numbers of people indiscriminately without probable cause.
- Stop enforcing laws in ways that criminalize people for their poverty or lack of housing.
- Explore establishing voluntary non-law enforcement and rights based violence prevention programs, such as community based mediation teams to address disputes within communities or interventions for youth who are at risk.
- Collect data on police activities, disaggregated by race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, and other demographics, and make it public. Also make public, substantiated police misconduct records.