Over the past week, we have observed countless numbers of protests provoked by the unjust killing of George Floyd. While protesting is protected by the First Amendment’s freedom of speech and expression, I do not condone the accompanying violence & uncontrolled rage demonstrated by some protestors. The looting and destruction of private businesses and police properties do not symbolize any semblance of what Mr. Floyd stood for. Floyd’s family even stated that he would be devastated by the violence directed toward blue-collared workers in metropolitan areas. Although I personally agree that peaceful protests regarding the outcome of Mr. Floyd’s death are warranted, any protest which becomes violent directly contradicts the message they are attempting to make. The message of these protests are clear: the police must be held accountable for inhumane acts directed towards minorities. Furthermore, the three other cops must be held accountable for their involvement in Mr. Floyd’s murder. You can read more on my take regarding the charges in my previous post. As a result of these lootings, multiple cities are attempting to rebuild and regain control of the streets. I find that we lack, as a nation, any sense of leadership through this civil outrage. The President seemingly is only pouring gasoline onto a fire which was already quite extensive initially. The truth is the President cannot rectify this situation through words, as some outlets are suggesting. Sure, the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” does not help subside tensions in America, but the truth of the matter is no eloquent speech can fully rectify this matter. A speech by this President would be nothing more than a facade, to be quite blunt. The President has the ability to take action and provoke police reform, the very topic which protestors are calling for. This President either cannot comprehend this conclusion, or lacks the willpower to take the drastic action that is necessary.
The President campaigns as a populist, no question. And yet, when it comes to governing, Donald Trump is your typical neo-corporatist Republican we have come to expect. That stereotype also comes with the expectation that he stands for the status quo and deregulation of Wall Street, pandering to big business, and placing their interest above those of the common, working-class American. This is the problem with almost every politician in Washington currently, be it Democrat or Republican. They lack the backbone to promote any provocative policy in fear of public backlash. Most Americans would prefer that you be authentic and honest rather than two-faced however. As such, Donald Trump & his predecessors are not going to be a figurehead of political unity anytime soon.
As for the protest themselves: peaceful is profitable. That motto is the advice that I would spread to anyone wishing to take action in that manner to raise awareness of who George Floyd was and the circumstances of his death. You can profit off peaceful protest by alerting others of the systemic disadvantages faced by different groups of people. This is held evident based on other movements which revolved around protests, such as the Women Suffrage Movement. By and large, these protests involved loud cries for equality in voting rights, not the destruction of private property. And as history plays out, this movement proved successful, as women were granted the right to vote after a long, hard fought revolution. They profited by keeping the matter peaceful. As soon as a protest transforms into a riot, credibility is instantaneously lost, and it becomes much harder to achieve your purpose.
I stand with the PEACEFUL protestors, not those who do not even know why they are protesting to begin with. I stand with those who wish to nationally mourn the loss of a seemingly kind human being, not those who wish to incite violence as soon as they find a reason to do so. It is not wrong to stand with the protestors while denouncing the looters, which seems to have dumbfounded the Democratic Party on a state and national level. We must condemn those who wish to harm others, as it is morally clear as day. It is hypocritical to castigate the cops responsible for Floyd’s death while going on to harm another person or destroy an innocent civilian’s property. I am also going to go on limb and say that many of these destructive protestors do not attend the event to help bring recognition to the actual issue in America, but rather seek to take advantage of a prime opportunity to enrich themselves while police officers are preoccupied. These protestors are outright criminals, and they, too, must be charged for robbery and destruction of property. As a result of their careless action, many business owners are now in a tough position where they must rebuild the structure of their storefront and lay off workers in the meantime, in the middle of an economic depression nonetheless. With my own family running a family business, I cannot fathom the pain that would cause for those in that position. I sincerely hope that you all can land on your feet soon.
With all of this in mind, I would like to offer my personal platform which begins to break the ice of reform on at least one issue: police reform. Please note that as time continues, and more events occur, I will release other policy platforms which address my stance on other topics such as healthcare and education. Additionally, you can view my policy platform alone on a separate page rather than rummaging through my statements for different platforms. In my personal opinion, I interpret a lot of this protest referendum is centered around reforming policing in a 21st century approach. I also acknowledge that it focuses upon systemic disadvantages faced by minorities, but I would prefer to release my platform on that at a later time as it is much more detail-intensive and, plainly, covers many industries in one heading, so to speak. With that all being said, I will layout a 10-step, common sense reform strategy on the topic of policing.
First and foremost, I must credit all the content in this plan to Campaign Zero, a sub-movement of the Black Lives Matter Movement. They have done a phenomenal job in their research and I wholeheartedly agree with all of these ten points. They deserve a great amount of praise, and I believe that all of these points will be implemented, hopefully sooner rather than later. With that being said, I will break the strategy down, and you can also follow along in their graphic depicting it here:
Here is my personal interpretation on how this helps advance the goal of racial equality:
- “A decades-long focus on policing minor crimes and activities – a practice called Broken Windows policing – has led to the criminalization and over-policing of communities of color and excessive force in otherwise harmless situations. In 2014, police killed at least 287 people who were involved in minor offenses and harmless activities like sleeping in parks, possessing drugs, looking “suspicious” or having a mental health crisis. These activities are often symptoms of underlying issues of drug addiction, homelessness, and mental illness which should be treated by healthcare professionals and social workers rather than the police.” This proposal would effectively end the senseless killings of all peoples, regardless of race, as a result of misdemeanor crimes where rehabilitation or assistance would be provided over prison time. Also reallocates the focus back upon the major crimes committed in society, where it always should have been. Go to https://www.joincampaignzero.org/brokenwindows to find out how we can permanently dismantle this putrid practice.
- “Police usually investigate and decide what, if any, consequences their fellow officers should face in cases of police misconduct. Under this system, fewer than 1 in every 12 complaints of police misconduct nationwide results in some kind of disciplinary action against the officer(s) responsible. Communities need an urgent way to ensure police officers are held accountable for police violence.” Oversight is always warranted in major affairs, be it politics or big business. This proposal would provide community oversight of police, a long needed policy. Go to https://www.joincampaignzero.org/oversight to find out how we can establish oversight in every community in America.
- “Police should have the skills and cultural competence to protect and serve our communities without killing people – just as police do in England, Germany, Japan and other developed countries. In 2014, police killed at least 253 unarmed people and 91 people who were stopped for mere traffic violations. The following policy solutions can restrict the police from using excessive force in everyday interactions with civilians.” Although this initially seems like the most erroneous and unachievable policy on the list, it can be done. Needless to say, if we implement this policy, we can make significant progress to reduce the number of killings due to police brutality. Go to www.joincampaignzero.org/force to see the specifics.
- “Local prosecutors rely on local police departments to gather the evidence and testimony they need to successfully prosecute criminals. This makes it hard for them to investigate and prosecute the same police officers in cases of police violence. These cases should not rely on the police to investigate themselves and should not be prosecuted by someone who has an incentive to protect the police officers involved.” Independent investigations are done on behalf of business leaders. Why can’t we take a similar approach to investigating crooked cops? The truth is we can. Go to https://www.joincampaignzero.org/investigations to find out how.
- “While white men represent less than one third of the U.S. population, they comprise about two thirds of U.S. police officers. The police should reflect and be responsive to the cultural, racial and gender diversity of the communities they are supposed to serve. Moreover, research shows police departments with more black officers are less likely to kill black people.” Whilst I do not give any support to identity politics overall, I do believe that representation that reflects the diversity of the community will enhance the trust between these parties. As such, I do support the policies laid out on https://www.joincampaignzero.org/representation.
- “While they are not a cure-all, body cameras and cell phone video have illuminated cases of police violence and have shown to be important tools for holding officers accountable. Nearly every case where a police officer was charged with a crime for killing a civilian in 2015 relied on video evidence showing the officer’s actions.” Evidence is not tangible when it is blatantly obvious that a crime has been committed. As such, we must ensure that body cameras are kept on at all points during an officers shift. Go to https://www.joincampaignzero.org/film-the-police to find out how we can ensure all injustices are captured on camera.
- “The current training regime for police officers fails to effectively teach them how to interact with our communities in a way that protects and preserves life. For example, police recruits spend 58 hours learning how to shoot firearms and only 8 hours learning how to deescalate situations. An intensive training regime is needed to help police officers learn the behaviors and skills to interact appropriately with communities.” These statistics are absolutely flooring and should not be taken lightly. We must ensure that our next generation of cops are given training in the order that save lives, not taking them. In no world is it sensible to spend 4 times the amount of time training officers how to shoot a gun than how to keep a situation calm. Go to https://www.joincampaignzero.org/train to see how we can right the ship.
- ” Police should be working to keep people safe, not contributing to a system that profits from stopping, searching, ticketing, arresting and incarcerating people.” In a similar fashion to the military industrial complex, for profit policing benefits at the cost of citizens. And as it’s been made clear, minorities are often targeted by these officers, who stereotype them as the predominant wrongdoers in society. Go to https://www.joincampaignzero.org/end-policing-for-profit to find out how we can end this abhorrent practice.
- “The events in Ferguson have introduced the nation to the ways that local police departments can misuse military weaponry to intimidate and repress communities. In 2014, militarized SWAT teams killed at least 38 people and studies show that more militarized police departments are significantly more likely to kill civilians. The following policies limit police departments from obtaining or using these weapons on our streets.” We got a lot of things dead wrong in the Ferguson crisis of 2014, and the idea of recycling used military equipment in lower ranking offices such as SWAT teams have not enhanced our position in any way. If military-esque teams are necessary, then deploy military troops themselves, or the National Guard for that matter. Military equipment in your local police department is unnecessary and costs lives. Go to https://www.joincampaignzero.org/demilitarization to find out how we can roll back this procedure.
- “Police unions have used their influence to establish unfair protections for police officers in their contracts with local, state and federal government and in statewide Law Enforcement Officers’ Bills of Rights. These provisions create one set of rules for police and another for civilians, and make it difficult for Police Chiefs or civilian oversight structures to punish police officers who are unfit to serve. Learn more about how police union contracts help officers avoid accountability here.” Union rights is an in-depth topic which requires much explanation. What needs no explanation, however, is how to charge a criminal. Just because a person accused of murder is a former police officer does not mean he or she should be granted special privileges. It is time to put an end to these privileges, which undermine our very system. Go to https://www.joincampaignzero.org/contracts to find out how we can ensure all criminals are prosecuted as such.
I cannot explain how instrumental the Campaign Zero initiative was in terms of forming my policy platform in a coherent manner. I encourage all readers to go to their website at https://www.joincampaignzero.org/ and even make a donation if you could to help advance their movement. Their proposals are not radical, they are common sense. I encourage all incumbent politicians to adopt this platform as I have to move closer towards racial equality all while reforming policing in a productive manner. Recall, I once stated that this movement, ‘Active Engagement’, is a two-step process. One must engage with the content at their fingertips in an active way by promoting it and calling for that change to be implemented. Based upon numerous polls, the majority of these policies have widespread support across America. It’s time for our leadership to implement them. And it’s our job to ensure they hear our desires. That is precisely why you must be active in your call for reform, or else they will be ignored, however unfortunate that may be. I can assure you all, I would be fighting for every one of these policies to be implemented if I were in a position to do so. It is the public will and would reduce the widespread devastation we are observing in modern times, so I ask: Why do we fail to right by our people?
I leave you with this, remember the fallen. Remember George Floyd. Perhaps this is finally the case which provokes actual reform, and not just the typical “thoughts and prayers,” line we have grown to expect. How many more blatant killings by police, or school shootings, or mass casualties at public forums must we endure in order to finally implement change. Every time we call for change, but we now expect nothing of substance to come from it. How much longer can this conservatism carry on before Washington realizes that the people no longer have faith in any of our representatives. We need productive change, and I hope for everyone’s sake, we get that change soon. Too many have suffered for too long.
– C. Lewis