End Police Brutality Now!
The Policy Changes Needed
Written by Pervez S. Agwan | Twitter | Instagram | Author Page
This article is also available on our YouTube channel as an informational video; both discuss the tremendous weight of the troubles that afflict our society today, and how best the citizens of this country (USA) and this earth can come together to end state-sponsored violence, police brutality, and racial hatred.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans, from every corner of this vast country, had recently taken to the streets our our cities to protest the horrific murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. For 8 agonizing and painful minutes, officer Derek Chauvin ignored George Floyd’s gasps for air and haunting cries for help. America, we witnessed this monstrous murder with our very own eyes committed by our very own country’s police force.
The chart below shows that Black Americans are 3 times as likely to be killed by the police as White Americans are, even though a larger percentage of Black Americans are unarmed when they are killed by the police.
“It demands great spiritual resilience not to hate the hater whose foot is on your neck, and an even greater miracle of perception and charity not to teach your child to hate.”
– James Baldwin
The Fire Next Time
There exists a glaring issue when it comes contextualizing the chart above which we simply cannot ignore. Black Americans comprise approximately 13% of the US population, yet account for a quarter of those killed by the police.
Meanwhile, President Trump continues to fan the flames of division, and is failing to unite the country at a time when our nation needs healing more than ever. Instead of calling on the better angels of our nature, and seeking a pathway towards a solution, Trump doubled down on his rhetoric of animosity and politicized the issue. This morally bankrupt man is not fit to be president of our country, and has been largely condemned by respected military leaders, and even top Republicans politicians. America, it appears that we have reached a tipping point in this generation’s history, and the time has come for us as a collective body of citizens to come together to end policy brutality, and state sponsored violence NOW. BLACK LIVES MATTER. There are many mediums of action that we Americans can take, from petitioning our local government officials, to protesting for change in the streets, but whatever the medium is, we must take action, and we must take action now. In this article we’ll discuss why we need to end police brutality now, and we’ll at a high-level go over at the policy changes our society is demanding to build a better America for the future.
The advance of justice is the calling of our time. The advance of equality, of liberty, and of democracy are the callings of our time. If we do not defend our fellow brothers and sisters in humanity from state-sponsored violence, and if we do not defend their liberties, how can we ever truly call America great, and the land of the free? America can only live up to the lofty ideals that we hold once we all recognize that black lives matter, and once we all truly internalize the pain that our African American brothers and sisters feel.
Our 3 areas of focus in this article which will attempt to explain how we can end police brutality are:
- How we must stay in the streets, exercise our right to protest, and shape our democracy
- How we must end racial hatred, and take an introspective approach to do so,
- The policy changes our country is demanding to ensure that what happened to George Floyd never happens again.
1) Exercising your constitutionally granted right to protest, and shape our democracy
From Minnesota, to Kentucky, and all the way to the streets of DC, our young people and our generation have been demonstrating how in a democracy, average citizens can pressure the world’s greatest powers; we can drive our leaders to expand the boundaries of justice & equality with our protests. We realize that our country isn’t finished yet, it’s far from perfect, and we have a lot more work to do. The constitution declares it very clearly: “We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.”
As President Obama said, “this union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected.” America is not yet finished building, and advancing! In the 1960s, because of the protests in Birmingham, the Montgomery bus boycott, and because of people like Congressman John Lewis, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, a just, and righteous America triumphed. They protested and they resisted for months before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were passed. We climb on their backs, and stand on their shoulders today for the progress that we’ve seen up until 2020 is because of their struggle. We owe a debt to them and we must continue that fight to shape our democracy for the better.
President Obama, speaking at Selma, mentioned that sometimes it feels that “progress has been uneven…for every 2 steps forward it often feels like we take one step back, yet the long sweep of America has been defined by a forward motion.” We are always moving forward, and we must remember that when we demonstrate for change in the streets, and lobby our lawmakers. Ultimately the constitution grants us, the people, power; we give the constitution meaning. We, the people. Our generation believes in a fair, just, and inclusive America. We must be willing to carry our democracy forward. We will soon outnumber the generations before us, and this country will be our country, and we will always embrace change, for change is inherently intertwined with the essence of America.
2) We must make efforts to End Racial Hatred, and start by changing ourselves
As Colin Powell rightfully stated, “There is nothing to stand up and cheer about or applaud in a message of racial or ethnic hatred. There is utter foolishness, evil, and danger in the message of hatred.” We must hold this statement true in our hearts that: No one person can ever claim superiority over another based on the color of their skin, their gender, their religion, or their ethnicity. All people are created equal, and we must deeply embody that ideal. We must also take efforts to eliminate any biases we ourselves possess, and think deeply about how we react to people of opposing races, or nationalities. As Martin Luther King asked in his I have a dream speech, are you judging others not by the color of their skin, but rather by the content of their character? Be reflective, embody introspection, and eliminate your biases. Only once you change yourself, can you ask change of others.
3) The policy changes our country is demanding to ensure that what happened to George Floyd never happens again.
There are numerous policy proposals in the works that can bring fundamental changes to the structure that resulted in these killings. If we continue to protest, march, and maintain a sense of possibility, we CAN pressure our policy makers to change the law. Now unfortunately, since most police departments fall under local and state control, federal policy is limited in the scope of change it can authorize from Washington. As of June 6, House democrats are working on the “Justice in Policing Act of 2020.”
The proposed legislation is seeking to, from a federal policy perspective:
- Ban chokeholds or other carotid holds, and attempt to make state level funding contingent upon these bans
- Require all federal officers to wear body cameras, and their vehicles to utilize dashboard cameras. The policy is aiming to mandate state and local level agencies to utilize federal funds to ensure this happens in their domains as well.
- Create a National Police Misconduct Registry, and mandate local law enforcement agencies to log cases of misconduct in the registry. Too often officers that are guilty of abusing their powers are let off without justice, and they simple move to others localities. This logs their misconduct in a verified, certifiable registry.
- Mandate racial and awareness training for all officers to make them aware of cultural, racial, and ethnic biases they may possess.
- Ban no-knock warrants, which means that law enforcement may not simply enter a citizen’s home without knocking.
As previously mentioned, there isn’t a one-fix solution just from the federal level. Digging down deeper into the local policy arena, we must:
- Establish effective civilian oversight structures at the community level: think a civilian complaints office for every local police department
- Require that police departments increase the number of officers that reflect the make-up of the communities that they represent.
- End for-profit policing. Police departments should not be driven by speeding or traffic ticket quotes in order to generate revenue. There should be no arrest quotas to keep a department’s lights on.
- Lower fines, and fees for those who are less fortunate, and unable to pay their fines and fees. We must regulate the percentage of revenue a county, a department, or a municipality generates from fines, fees, tickets, and arrests. Policing should not lead to revenue generation. Period.
- And finally, end military grade weapons in the possession of local police departments. Why would local police need military style weaponry such as armored vehicles, tear gas, and assault rifles when protecting, and serving communities of families, children, and common American citizens?
Of course, we cannot speak or force a vision into existence. We must passionately believe in it, deep within the depths of our own hearts, and then hold fast to these ambitions and beliefs, as we chart a pathway towards a brighter, and better America.
To paraphrase the great Robert F. Kennedy: The passion, and devotion we can bring to this endeavor can light our society and serve as a beacon for many generations to come; this fire, this light, and this path can truly illuminate our country. While we are fighting for this movement, and for justice, let us not forget our many brothers and sisters in humanity who are suffering elsewhere across the globe.
Free Hong Kong
Free The Uyghur People
Ultimately, let us remember our necessary aims: Justice & Equality. Justice and equality at all costs. Justice and equality in spite of hatred. Justice & equality, however arduous the road ahead may be. Let us exercise our right to shape our democracy, end racial hatred, and fight for policy changes. Let us continue to fight day and night, with all of our might and strength that God has given us. Black Lives Matter, and they always will.
Thanks for reading everyone, and I will leave you with this quote to end by Malcolm X may he rest in peace.
“You’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or who says it”
– Malcolm X