Read Steven Paletz's Statement on the George Floyd Protests & The Need for Racial Justice
Only weeks ago, steps of state capitol buildings witnessed men and women openly armed, protesting the “challenge to their freedom” that sheltering in place and wearing masks created.
Police stood patiently.
Not an ounce of tear gas was used.
Everyone went home.
The situation this week presents a stark difference. As we protested unarmed against the murder of George Floyd by a police officer, tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray were amply available, to use against demonstrators.
This is the constant juxtaposition we face as we fail to address racial injustice, but especially as we fail to address it within the ranks of law enforcement. The perception that a racially diverse group of unarmed civilians is more threatening than a group of armed, white, protestors speaks to the core of the problem.
It is time our nation confronts racial injustice head-on, and prioritizes addressing the issue within the ranks of law enforcement, court rooms, and prisons. All racial groups must be at the table as we address and prioritize community based policing efforts, and end the presumption of innocence that exists when a murder is committed by someone in uniform.
Law enforcement officers are generally hard-working and caring public servants. Recognizing their dedication does not preclude a serious conversation about systemic injustice. We can work together to identify those officers that do not represent our shared values of equality, justice, and the right to live freely without fear of murder.
It can be done. It must be done.