Loading...

Policing Will Reform With or Without the GOP
COMMENTARY

April 23, 2021 by Mary Sanchez
(Yaroslav Sabitov/Dreamstime)

America is pushing toward policing reform, with or without Republicans.

Not swiftly, not without debate, and not without public protests. But it will happen.

There is simply too much momentum for either political party to revert to the status quo before George Floyd, before Michael Brown, before Breonna Taylor and so many other Black people who died needlessly at the hands of police.

And yet Republican-led state houses are bearing down on the rights of those who are most fervently pressing for change, on the protesters.

The intention is clearly to stifle a repeat of last year’s Black Lives Matter protests. It’s also aligning the party with some curious compatriots.

In a crowd of diverse protesters milling about a Kansas City park on a sunny afternoon last May after the killing of Floyd, I saw a man decked out in camouflage carrying a Gadsden “Don’t Tread on Me” flag, its yellow background and coiled rattlesnake increasingly a familiar symbol used by white supremacists and anti-government extremists.

He attempted to egg on young Black men in the crowd, looking for a physical fight. People ignored him while eyeing the shotgun strapped across his back.

Finally, some young people grabbed the flag and burned it, stamping out the flames so nothing spread. Thankfully, the man went on his way, outnumbered and stripped of his signage.

Under the bill Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis just signed into law, this instigator would be protected but those in the largely peaceful crowd could face legal consequences. A few destroyed a historical flag. Even more cheered. In Florida, those acts could now be deemed a second degree felony.

It’s just one provision of Florida’s new “anti-riot” bill, which DeSantis signed just as the jury went to deliberation at the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of Floyd’s death.

Florida’s misnamed “anti-riot” law aligns with a GOP mold, with portions mimicked in other state legislatures, including Missouri.

The law piles on extra penalties, turning misdemeanors to felonies and giving prosecutors and police the power to rope bystanders into repercussions that should only be focused on people who cause harm, either to buildings or others. After all, it’s already a crime to smash windows, torch buildings or physically fight a police officer or another person.

The new law also protects drivers who crash through crowds of protesters from civil lawsuits. Gov. Kevin Stitt also recently signed a similar law in Oklahoma. Like that was needed in any state.

The lack of insight into what’s at stake by GOP leaders is horrendous.

These bills aren’t intended to thoughtfully address tensions, but rather to shut down people who dare raise them, to avoid any discussion of what is vitally relevant in America today — a thorough assessment of modern policing.

Americans who care enough to fill the streets to protest peacefully are ones that reasonable, capable elected officials should want to engage. Not attack, not threaten their constitutional rights and most certainly not to demean in a simplistic “them vs. us” approach to governing.

Elected officials are not only ignoring broad American support of reform efforts, but also the calls for positive change that are coming from within the ranks of law enforcement. There’s no disagreement from chiefs of police that officers are increasingly sent to intervene in situations that involve mental health, addiction and homelessness. And they want solutions too.

Plenty of licensed law enforcement officers across the country have been involved in the reform movement alongside clergy, students and community leaders.

It’s not too late. The GOP party leadership could decide that they wish to play a productive role, rather than be obstinate and try to shut down change that’s already moving ahead.

The guilty verdict against Chauvin in the death of Floyd was one important step. It provided a sense of hope that officers can and will be held accountable for egregious abuses of force.

But the evolving scope of what citizens envision for policing is much larger. Those discussions have barely just begun. The protests of 2020 were a plea, a demand for change that remains largely unanswered. So into another summer of protests we head.

©2021 Mary Sanchez. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

A+
a-

Opinions

December 2, 2021
by Leonard Pitts
'True Compassion is More Than Flinging a Coin to a Beggar'

Abraham could have asked for anything. The Make-A-Wish folks stood ready to make a dream come true for the 13-year-old... Read More

Abraham could have asked for anything. The Make-A-Wish folks stood ready to make a dream come true for the 13-year-old boy, who has aplastic anemia, a life-threatening blood disorder. But Adeola “Abraham” Olagbegi didn’t ask for a PS5 or a day with LeBron James. No, he... Read More

A 19-State Coalition Urges Congress to Pass the PFAS Action Act

On Nov. 15, 2021, California Attorney General Rob Bonta joined a coalition of 19 attorneys in urging Congress to enact the PFAS... Read More

On Nov. 15, 2021, California Attorney General Rob Bonta joined a coalition of 19 attorneys in urging Congress to enact the PFAS Action Act, legislation amending federal environmental laws to address PFAS contamination and provide funding for cleanup. In recent years, the family of manufactured chemicals called per-... Read More

Community Foundations in Time for Celebration and Reflection

This week, our nation comes together to recognize the more than 750 community foundations that operate in communities spanning the... Read More

This week, our nation comes together to recognize the more than 750 community foundations that operate in communities spanning the U.S. In many communities, organizations like mine have played a central role in fostering local collaboration and innovation to address persistent civic and economic challenges for... Read More

November 11, 2021
by Leonard Pitts
How Young is Too Young to Teach White Kids About Race?

Isabella Tichenor killed herself a few days ago. She was 10 years old. Her mother, Brittany Tichenor-Cox, said last week... Read More

Isabella Tichenor killed herself a few days ago. She was 10 years old. Her mother, Brittany Tichenor-Cox, said last week that her daughter — she called her “Izzy” — had been the target of ongoing racist abuse from classmates at her school in North Salt Lake,... Read More

Vexatious Trade Secret Litigation Shouldn’t Hamstring Innovation

When real estate title company Amrock sued data analytics firm HouseCanary in 2016, few foresaw how that seemingly straightforward $5... Read More

When real estate title company Amrock sued data analytics firm HouseCanary in 2016, few foresaw how that seemingly straightforward $5 million breach of contract lawsuit would trigger such significant constitutional and public policy concerns, or devolve into a years-long legal quagmire with three-quarters of a billion... Read More

November 9, 2021
by Mary Sanchez
Two Missouri Inmates, Two Tales of Justice Delayed

Once an innocent person is entangled in the criminal justice system, it’s damningly difficult to wrench them free. The public... Read More

Once an innocent person is entangled in the criminal justice system, it’s damningly difficult to wrench them free. The public is only vaguely aware of this. After all, that’s the point. Someone sentenced to prison is out of the public eye. Out of sight, out of... Read More

News From The Well
Exit mobile version