The largely peaceful protests around the country are manifestations of the overpressurized silence and disregarded pain, anger, and frustration of Black People built up over generations, in addition to the shock and horror of many other People of Color and White Americans.
The law enforcement and criminal justice systems are made up of parts and each one has long played a passive role in the mistreatment and murder of Black people. Police officers are incentivized to look the other way when fellow officers fail their oaths. Police officers who do speak up are ostracized or worse put in life threatening situations. Chiefs rarely fire police officers after misconduct. And when officers are fired, unions advocate for officers that should not be on duty. If a district attorney actually decides to prosecute the case, the court system’s structure allows lawyers to horse trade jury members leading to juries that rarely prosecute officers. The defense of being afraid for your life is good enough, even though everyone in America has been taught to fear Black people, especially Black men.
As I have watched these protests, I have seen many people being attacked by the police (mostly in places where the police have taken a combative and militant approach to protesters). White people are among those being attacked. The problems are not with Black people, the problems include:
- the over-militarization of the police;
- the delusion that police officers are not regular people with beliefs and attitudes that influence their behavior in uniform;
- the lack of training and development of police officers on managing themselves and being disruptive to oppression;
- the lack of building true partnership with, protection of, and service to communities;
- the rare occurrence of firing police officers for misconduct;
- the lack of centralized, statewide certification management for police officers that comes with the consequence of being decertified for misconduct so they cannot be rehired;
- the court system’s many problems (from judge’s decision fatigue and default biases being ignored to sentencing inequities).