On Sunday, 20-year-old Daunte Wright was killed by police in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. This, as the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck in the city that is less than 15 miles from the latest shooting, casts an ominous shadow.
In the past few weeks alone, the nation has been rocked by shocking reports of police violence. Adam Toledo, a Latino 13-year-old, was killed by Chicago police on March 29. Police video of the incident is slated to be released this week.
And a military officer recently filed a lawsuit over a horrifying gas station stop that happened in December. Virginia cops threatened, drew guns on and pepper-sprayed Army Lt. Caron Nazario, who is Black and Latino. The lieutenant is suing the cops, one of whom was fired.
Aside from a brief statement Monday by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, we’ve heard little from the administration over the past months on policing reform. Instead of coming out strong with a task force or commission (a Biden campaign mainstay), they’ve opted to passively support legislation that is doing little in the Senate.
Psaki’s statement is a first step, but we need leadership and bold action from the White House.
On the campaign trail, Joe Biden called the 2020 election a “battle for the soul of the nation.” The president campaigned heavily on his empathy and knew the country was hurting. His administration, he posited, would be a balm the nation needed to heal from a year of pandemic crisis, four years of a divisive White House and generations of systemic oppression and inequality — including unequal justice as seen through biased policing.
In many ways, the president and his administration have not shied away from issues for racial justice. There were a series of early executive actions that put equity front and center. The commitment didn’t end there, as the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package offered substantial aid and redress for past wrongs committed against Black farmers. The upcoming infrastructure bill also promises to address more of the nation’s racist past.
But while some of the White House’s words and deeds have been promising, the legacy of this administration will be incomplete without action, and overhaul, on the culture, policies and practices of policing — an issue the president has been slow to act on.
On Monday, he lent a few minutes to the issue, which included words of condolence to the Wright family and then a tepid call to wait for an investigation to see whether it was an accident. He also admonished folks not to commit violence and looting in response. A topic this weighty deserves more.
In spite of a global pandemic, police killings have remained steady. To put it mildly, America has a police violence problem. To put it explicitly, America has a police brutality with impunity problem.
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Source: USA Today