By contributing writer Micalos Arnold
This is the final installment of Mike Arnold’s, How To Improve The Lives Of Black Americans. Click the following links to review parts I & II.
Dynamic Change Point Four
Vicious, brutal, racist policing against black people and their communities is nothing new. It has been a dynamic that people of color have endured for decades on top of decades. Watch any documentary centered around the civil rights movement of the sixties and one can’t help but see images of white police officers pushing, beating, dogging, and water spraying peaceful protesters. And that’s just the beginning. It is a fact that too many of these same sixties civil rights era police, particularly in the South, were members of the terrorist organization the Ku Klux Klan, or at least held many of their twisted beliefs. And many years and many incidents prior to what I call the golden age of the civil rights movement, The Sixties, police departments in many cities not just in the South, but across this nation did absolutely nothing “to protect and serve” black people and other people of color, as well as poor whites. But in particular, black men and women in the early Nineteen Tens, in The Roaring Twenties, The Dirty Thirties (spawned by The Dust Bowl crisis), The War Years Forties, and The Booming Fifties, were terrorized- beaten, raped, and lynched- with the perpetrators of these crimes facing little to no repercussions by law enforcement nor state and local governments. Even when people were arrested for some of these heinous crimes (see the Emmett Till story), many juries, often all white in the South, would not convict the defendants.
So now here we are in the year 2020, and quickly dashing towards 2021. Are we living in a futuristic ‘Jetson’s’ utopia? No (and thank God, I guess, because if my memory serves me correctly, there were no black people on The Jetson’s…right?). Is racism a thing of old history? Not even close. Is police brutality still prevalent? You damnnnnn right it is. Sixty years after the birth of the civil rights movement, color as in skin color, is the centerpiece of our still shameful social construct. This means that when many officers encounter black men and women even during what should be the most mundane and routine engagements, their embedded fear (or often, disdain) of us can catapult a ordinary traffic stop into a hail of bullets that end yet another black life. It means that a sick, racist officer can nonchalantly take a knee on a grown black man’s neck for nearly nine minutes and seemly do it without fear of any repercussions. It means that police can shoot a black woman in her own home multiple times, killing her, while serving a no-knock warrant when in fact the person that they were looking for was already in custody. It means that a twelve year old boy brandishing a toy gun is shot mercilessly by arriving police in two seconds. And, it means that a young black teenager walking home from the store with a can of Arizona tea and a bag Skittles candy can never make it home because a moron who thinks he’s a cop (and wanted to be one) feels that the young teen is up to no good and ultimately discharges his weapon into the body of the teen during a struggle that should have never happened. This is insanity. Black person after black person after black person has been shot and killed by police not just long ago, but now, 2020. Police shootings of unarmed black people is so common, you shouldn’t be surprised if by the time you finish this op ed, someone very well could be posting a video of a police related shooting (or choking) of yet another unarmed black person somewhere on the internet. It’s that bad. And mind you, we only know of incidents that have been filmed one way or another for the most part. We as black people cannot continue to live and function on this planet…especially here in America, when bad, racist conduct by the men and women ‘peace officers’ threatens one of us every…single…day. Black folks shooting each other is bad, and that is a severe problem which needs to be dealt with vigorously, but let’s keep things all about policing in the United Sates for now. Here’s what needs to happen as soon as possible.
Dynamic Change Point Five, my final change point, would create a federally empowered committee made up of people from many walks of life to review all law enforcement cases of severe police brutality and/or shootings in the United States that lead to gross bodily injury (such as but not limited to loss of limb, paralyzation, disfigurement, severe change in physical mobility, brain damage and its affects) and of course, death. This committee would not have direct prosecutorial powers, but would review these incidents to determine if the officer(s) involved should be prosecuted. ‘The Committee’ would receive, by federal mandate, all pertinent incident evidence such as any video, audio, and eyewitness information regarding a injury caused by any law officer in any city, state, or federal branch of law enforcement or private investigation services. I don’t know how many individuals would make up The Committee, but they would be highly diverse. So imagine this Committee comprising of, say, a retired federal criminal judge, a retired police chief, retired decorated homicide detectives, a medical examiner, news reporters, a Black Lives Matter official, a LGBT activist, a NAACP official, a Officer from the administrative arm of HBCU’s, a prominent black civil rights leader, a good old fashioned working class citizen from a community plagued by gun violence and bad policing, a retired teacher, a prominent business person (of any color mind you), a representative from the ACLU, Christian organizations, the Muslim community, the Jewish community, and and so on and so on. People of all races from all walks of life taking a detailed honest look at these police shootings.
Because one of the biggest problems with these wayward police actions is getting local prosecutors to prosecute. So after, say, a fatal officer involved shooting of a civilian, a local Attorney General would have a reasonable but limited amount of time to review the incident and it’s evidences to declare whether or not he or she will prosecute the officer. If the AG declines to prosecute because he or she believes the shooting was justified (along with the chief of police), The Committee would receive all evidence available regarding the case and The Committee could either agree with the attorney general or bypass the attorney general if it inherently disagrees with the ‘no prosecution’ decision. A Committee disagreement with a local attorney general would allow the committee to bypass and demand that prosecution procedures begin, with oversight on the individual prosecutors assigned to the case, and the location of the trial. Thus, no grand jury would be needed for officer’s who are facing potential charges. This highly intelligent and capable Committee would be essentially serving in that capacity. If the local attorney general elects to prosecute, The Committee would still review the incident expeditiously prior to any trial date without jeopardizing an officer’s right to a fair and speedy trial (whatever that truly means if you know how long it typically takes for a trial to start). Initial Committee candidates would submit applications to an equally active and diverse voting team whose one time job would be to launch The Committee. Members, if selected, would agree to serve in the paid position for two years, and the selected members would elect by vote a Committee chairman who would serve an additional year for continuity and administrative purposes, as well as managing the new team after two years. Such a team of trusted, intelligent, and respected people would help calm tensions and elevate a sense of public trust (and patience) after deadly incidents involving police officers who take the lives of citizens and suspects alike. People a lot smarter than myself can fine tune the premise of The Committee certainly (or any of the Dynamic Change Points for that matter), but I believe we need this Dynamic Change Point Five NOW. Something like this can work.
I’m sure some folks reading this may think these points are, well, pointless. These initiatives could never happen some may say dismissively. My answer to such doubters is that I never thought I’d see the day where most of the world would shut down do to a pandemic that even Hollywood couldn’t imagine, and, in the midst of such a monumental crisis, the President of The United States of America would waste 51 valuable pandemic fighting days dismissing the crafty virus as “a Democratic hoax.” Meanwhile, eventually the same President would sign a bill that would authorize a $1200 payment to every taxpayer in the country, and then follow up that payment with what many call a campaign letter signed by the President to remind taxpayers that yeah, he alone is the guy we all should thank for the money. Never mind the hard work that Nancy Pelosi and a host of other Democrats put in to pressure the Trump administration to deliver historic help to people suffering at the hands of a virus that the President hopes will just “go away” like some bad dream. Over five million Americans have contracted Covid19.
And as I finish this piece, at 8:09 PST, August 5th, 2020, another one thousand fathers, mothers, and others in America died today from the Corona virus. Trump is a monumental failure as President on so many levels and across a broad range of issues. I hope and pray that the protesters we saw, and still see, marching through the streets of our country will join all of us that know we need new leadership in The White House by voting in the Presidential election in November. Because America is now fighting three pandemics…Covid19, racism, and Trumpism. Life right now for many of our citizens feels like an unreal Jordan Peele horror movie. We move and go about our day with a tingle on the brain, and sleep not deeply but with one eye open. It makes you wonder what’s next…hell I don’t know, giant killer hornets? Nah, that couldn’t happen. Right?
When not dutifully scanning the Nevada skies for swarms of massive bee-like invaders, Micalos Arnold, a retailer, and writer, spends a lot of time working on his first novel, a thriller tentatively titled Cold Hunt, as well as preparing for the re-launch of his entertainment website The Rhythm Review.