We are certain that, at the end of the day, the executive order President Trump signed June 16 to encourage changes in policing, including new restrictions on chokeholds, will not pass the test of time since it does not even meet the moment. It conveniently ignores centuries of racial injustice, begat of our original sin – slavery – and it ignores a toxic police culture that resorts to brute force and deadly consequences far more often than what is necessary. Perhaps the president does not feel the tectonic shift in public opinion that says much is expected now – right now – of those who lead our country.
He may want to start paying attention to the conversation on the streets of America.
Black men and women are dying in disproportionate numbers at the hands of an over-militarized police force. Cops in Minneapolis, according to the city’s own study, use force against blacks seven times more often than against whites. In another study by the American Journal of Public Health, black men in America are up to 3.5 times more likely than whites to be killed by law enforcement. The National Academy of Sciences has found that 1 in every 1,000 black men in the United States will die at the hands of police.
Insidious, systemic racism shows its face in all that constitutes life in this country. In our criminal justice system. In education. In access to health care. In access to capital.
In employment. In housing. In simply wanting to go out for a jog without fear of being shot dead.
All of that has to be addressed, popular opinion is now saying. All of that has to be solved. All of that has got to end.
It is not as easy as issuing a proclamation that suggests police stop using chokeholds. But, yes, Mr. President, in every manner of speaking, America needs to take its knee off the neck of the black race. Incremental policy prescriptions are an insult.
Activists and protesters nationwide are calling for broader action in the name of eliminating racism and they are winning the day – along with the hearts and minds of a majority of the American public.
Public opinion can be a stubborn thing. But when we saw – when we all witnessed – in graphic detail on TV and laptops, on cellphones and iPads, a white cop in Minneapolis kill George Floyd, a black citizen, by forcing his knee into the victim’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, well, that was that. Game over. Hearts and minds were convinced that America was adrift.
Public opinion on race and criminal justice issues has been moving to the left side of the public policy debate since the first protests over the fatal shootings of Trayvon Martin in 2012 and Michael Brown two years later.
And since Floyd’s death on May 25, public opinion on race, criminal justice and the Black Lives Matter movement itself has taken a giant step leftward.
A majority of American voters support for Black Lives, according to Civiqs, an online survey research firm, jumped by a 28-point margin. That is up 11 points in less than a month.
When we saw Sen. Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee for president in 2012, marching with the Black Lives Matters protesters, we knew change was afoot.
On top of that, Pew Research Center studies show that as Millennials moved firmly into their 20s and 30s, a new generation was coming into focus. And it has arrived. Generation Z – diverse and on track to be the most well-educated generation yet – is moving toward adulthood with a liberal set of attitudes and an openness to emerging social trends.
These protests will end only when our political leaders write and pass legislation that takes aim at the inequality that persists in our American culture.
And we can begin with the brunt and bloody instrument that is the very definition of our nation’s law enforcement.
Our children – our bright, beautiful and righteous children – see the mess that has been left to them. Pick an issue. But right now they are in the streets, carrying signs, chanting slogans, singing songs, making speeches and marching for justice and for our nation’s soul.
Do not ignore them.
They are the future – right now.
Ending chokeholds, Mr. President? You need to think bigger.
— The Register-Herald