It’s been a rough couple of weeks in the American news media, as the country has grappled with clash after clash between police and citizens. It was made all the more tangible when the violence got very close to home as a shooting happened in Dallas. My social media feeds have been stuffed full of emotional rallying on every imaginable side. It’s been disappointing to see it being such a polarizing moment, and I have struggled to understand how people could not sympathize with the victims and their families.
After the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile (which are only the two most recent murders added to a long string of unnecessary deaths already), it seems clear that the US has a problem with some police officers using fatal force where it is not needed, particularly in incidents with black people. If you find yourself resisting this truth, I would invite you to ask yourself why.
Perhaps you feel the work police officers do is valiant and just and an incredibly important protection for our communities. Perhaps you appreciate the sacrifices they make to keep our communities safe and want to protect them in return. I think it’s entirely possible to feel this way and to thank good cops for good work and also recognize that there are some police officers using fatal force where it is not needed, that incidents of such are primarily happening to black people, and that we all deserve policing reforms that mean we all feel safe in our communities, not just some of us.
Reform does not mean disrespecting or punishing police officers. The problem is not police officers. Police officers are just people. The problem is not people, but the system in which the people are working.
I urge you to check out Campaign Zero and the reforms they suggest.
And if after thinking about it again and checking out the Campaign Zero reforms, you still feel like we don’t need police reform, I invite you to email me and talk about it. I am genuinely curious about what you feel are the advantages of proceeding as we have been and the disadvantages of making change.