My heart is breaking today. I just got the news about the deadly shooting of police officers in Dallas. This is completely unacceptable. And, earlier this week, other officers shot two black men who did not deserve to die, in two days. I wish we lived in a culture of peace and safety for all these brothers and sisters. I feel such a sense of loss for these public servants and their families. I hear the voice of a black four year old comforting her mother, who loudly grieves Philando Castile’s violent death. None of this should be happening.
How can we move past this impasse?
Personally, I know, without a doubt, that when I call the police, they show up and are helpful to me. My personal safety is assured, when I call the police. They are professional, and use good judgement about my safety. This has been true in the past and I believe it will be true in the future.
I also know, that African Americans cannot count on this professional treatment. Because of these repeated incidents of violence against Black suspects, they fear and distrust our police officers – even the ones who might do a great job. America has a profound racial inequity problem, with regards to our policing. A lot of black folks feel they cannot depend on being protected, or served, by some police officers.
What can you do, as a white person who cares about justice and wants people of all races – and those who serve as police officers – to be safe, alive and experience well being? Here are some practical steps you can take:
Get to know your own police officers.
-You may have a neighborhood officer – have you met him or her? It’s better to know people before there are problems where you live.
-Your police department may host events, do you attend and meet the officers?
Educate yourself about policing.
-learn how police officers decide when to use force? what defines excessive force? when do police decide to use deadly force, and how can communities influence the police who serve them?
-what is restorative justice, and how can communities practice it?
-read former Police Chief (and now priest and pastor) David Couper’s blog, improving police.
Start to educate others about policing
-bring in speakers who know more than you do, and are committed to fair and just reforms.
-offer classes and conversations at your church, your campus
-write your legislators about new national standards and why we should hold police accountable for their choices around use of force
Join others working for change in where you live
-figure out who in your town, city or community is advocating for improved policing, and join the conversation. Look on Facebook, read the news, ask your connections.
-contact your local legislators, express your concern – (do this after you’re educated and connected… it’ll help you figure out what the request is. Do you want to ask for a professional review of policing standards and use of force decisions; what is the accountability process, what is going on in the judicatory.)
Whatever happens, don’t fight (violently). Don’t freeze. Do something and let’s make a difference together.