Dated: Wednesday August 26, 2020
In communities of color throughout the United States, police use of deadly force, acts of misconduct and abuse have now seemingly grown to epidemic proportions. And while violent crime may, in fact, be prevalent in these communities, no other areas or neighborhood groupings seem to have been subjected to the sheer numerical instances of the use of deadly force by the police as in the Black community.
In 2020 alone, we have witnessed not less than 558 police shootings throughout the country. 182, or 32.6 % of those shootings have been persons of color, and 60% of those were Black Americans, with Breanna Taylor, Raychard Brooks, Atatiana Jefferson, and Jacob Blake being only the most recent. And while each of these shootings have been subjected to intense scrutiny, there has seemingly been little to no resolution indicating accountability. It would seem as if open season on members of the Black community has been declared.
There appears to be no rhyme or reason where these incidents have occurred except that in each case, officers have claimed their lives or others were being endangered, even when the person clearly appeared to be unarmed. And where people of color should be able to rely upon law enforcement to keep them safe, they now appear to be terrified of the prospect of their appearance in the community. They now feel victimized in the streets and in their homes, not knowing if their name will be the next to be added to the ever-growing statistics.
It is now being whispered that one of the reasons for this seemed increase in Black deaths at the hands of the police may be that the racialized rhetoric coming from the highest office in the land is perpetuating a fear of people of color, spurring officers on to heightened levels of violent frenzy where their community interactions are concerned, urging them to rely upon their implicit biases towards people of color when dealing with them. And it cannot be left unsaid that very few of these officers have themselves been people of color. But regardless of the reasons, this trend of violence must stop.
It has become exceedingly clear that the relationships between police and the Black community have arrived at a critical crossroad and that a reckoning must now take place. For centuries, American law enforcement has been interwoven with slavery and segregation, and those memories cannot be easily erased. But no longer can it be claimed that these incidents are mere anomalies that rarely take place and are being taken out of context. No longer can we allow these incidents to occur without the leaders of our communities keeping us informed of the investigations every step of the way, insuring transparency and accountability. Nor can we any longer allow inappropriate or illegal actions of law enforcement to go unpunished and unaccountable. No longer can we disregard the disproportional deaths of Black lives at the hands of those whose duty is to protect. And in all cases when we now speak of police reform and what it entails, we must be represented at the table. THERE MUST BE CHANGE. THERE MUST BE ACCOUNTABILITY. THE CARNAGE MUST BE STOPPED.
The National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, Inc, a 501.(c).(3) non-profit, is a premier national organization representing the interests and concerns of African American, Latino and other criminal justice practitioners of color serving in law enforcement, corrections, and investigative agencies throughout the United States, and the communities in which they serve.
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