Now that racist murders of young, unarmed black men are more common in the national media than mass school shootings by young, armed white kids, President Obama is holding a series of meetings Monday solely devoted to examining, reforming, and hopefully demilitarizing law enforcement across the country to some degree.
The attempt to reign in police abuse running rampant across the country, as evidenced in a recently released FBI report, is a welcomed change in the overall national dialogue when compared to the comments of *sshats like former NYC mayor Rudy “Fooliani,” who constantly try to sidestep the role of white law enforcement in the equation, placing blame through false equivalencies and shallow thinking time and again on the black community, itself. According to privileged voices such as Giuliani’s, it’s black folks’ fault that they get themselves killed by prejudiced, fearful white “peace” officers every single day in this country.
But Obama’s not having it. He’s at least awake enough to realize the issue needs examining, and that the unrest the U.S. is already seeing, as well as creating across the globe, is only the beginning if change is not brought about in a meaningful manner rather soon. Things just cannot continue as they have been without more protests, riots and violence breaking out. The nation is at a tipping point, and there’s no going back.
Much of this tension has been brought about due to the grand jury’s failure to indict Officer Darren Wilson in last August’s cold-blooded murder of unarmed teenager Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri.
But the country is well aware that such instances have been going on for generations, and we still are not over what happened to Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and a slew of other young black men and women cut down in their prime. Outrage has reached a critical mass, and unless something is done, there is no telling how much of the metaphorical house will burn down. When even a large portion of the white population understands and even agrees there is a problem, you know the moment is primed for change, and action.
A White House official stated:
Recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, and around the country have shined a spotlight on the importance of strong, collaborative relationships between local police and the communities they protect and serve. As the country has witnessed, disintegration of trust between law enforcement agencies and the people they protect and serve can destabilize communities, undermine the legitimacy of the criminal justice system, undermine public safety, create resentment in local communities and make the job of delivering police services less safe and more difficult.
According to the White House official, Obama will convene his Cabinet Monday afternoon in order to review the 1033 program, which is the unloading of hundreds of millions of dollars in surplus military equipment to local law enforcement departments across the nation by the Pentagon – a major factor contributing to the aggressive tactics used more commonly by law enforcement these day. Like Bill Maher said, when you get new toys, chances are you’re going to want to play with them.
In the meetings held Monday, Obama plans to discuss steps and actions the White house is prepared to take in order to reform the program.
The President will be meeting in the Oval Office with civil rights leaders, community and faith leaders, as well as law enforcement officials across the country, to talk about bridging the gap between law enforcement and communities of color. The attempt is to figure out a way to re-establish trust between the civilian population and law enforcement.
Attorney General Eric Holder will travel to Atlanta later in the day to attend a church meeting, where he will essentially hold a similar meeting as the President’s Oval Office meeting, on what is to be the first stop on his “Building Community Trust” tour.
Following the failure of the grand jury to indict Officer Wilson last week, President Obama urged peace, stating:
We need to recognize that this is not just an issue for Ferguson. This is an issue for America.
He’s right. Let’s just hope what comes out of Monday’s meetings is right, too. It doesn’t take a genius to know step number one is to simply stop killing first and asking questions later.
Racism is not a problem that can go away overnight. Most likely it will take several generations of love and education before we, as a nation, can put a real damper on the sickness that has plagued America since it was invaded by colonial settlers so many years ago. However, in order for love and education to reign over the land, first and foremost, our children have to be able to survive walking the streets without being gunned down by fellow community members, and law enforcement officers.
And law enforcement must also learn that signing up to be law enforcement does not only mean that one will sometimes risk one’s life to head into a storm of bullets in order to stop a violent criminal; it means it also must risk it’s life in the line of duty by giving citizens the benefit of the doubt, and take more than a split, jump-from-the-car-and-shoot second to assess a situation before deadly force is used. An officer’s gun should always be a last resort, after all nonlethal avenues are utilized. Consider that there are countries in the world where law enforcement does not even carry a gun. We can get there, too, someday, if we learn to grow together.
Let us hope change is around the corner, and that our President is true enough to lead the way.