I am angry. I am frustrated. I am sad and hurt.
The events unfolding across our nation, the senseless murder of George Floyd, the riots and the police response has rolled back the curtain of peace and laid bare to the world the injustices our nation perpetuates against our African-American countrymen and women.
Over the past week, I have watched as police chiefs and captains call for unity and healing, even as officers under their commands assault peaceful protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets. I’ve read statements from state and national leadership praying for peace with one sentence and vowing retribution with the next. And even as people of all races and backgrounds come together to demand reforms, there are those who choose to dilute peaceful folk’s crucial message with destruction and vandalism.
Small business owners have lost their livelihoods, towns and cities have had their peace shattered and our nation has lost its standing in the global community as a beacon for justice and freedom.
I interact with law enforcement often collecting the weekly arrest reports and following up on cases, and I struggle to rationalize the events in Minneapolis, D.C., Louisville and other cities with the image of integrity and public service our officers in Newton County display in their words and actions every day.
Broad strokes will not serve. I see many police officers and protesters alike share the common goal of making America a better, safer place for all. And I see bad actors in both groups working to drive a wedge between us, fracturing our society and instilling chaos and discord.
Law enforcement in our country does have racial bias. From the failed war on drugs and stop and frisk to property forfeitures and fines, the weight of the justice system lands hardest on our black and brown communities, and that must end.
At the judicial level, we’ve seen extreme reluctance to prosecute officers who cross the line, protecting the bad actors and eroding the public’s faith. At the same time, the hammer (or gavel) doesn’t hesitate to crash down on young black men, handing down outrageous sentences for marijuana, shoplifting and other petty crimes.
Even as some, most of our nation’s police officers dedicate their lives to service in their communities, doing immeasurable good, the system which they defend has laid clear different rules for those of different races, economic status and social standing.
The system is racist, and if it is truly self evident that all men are created equal, we cannot afford to let our friends and neighbors continue to suffer its injustices.
We can change. We must change.
America is the land of opportunity and freedom, and I urge everyone to use this opportunity and the freedoms you have under the first amendment to demand our nation fulfills its part of the oath, providing liberty and justice for all.
You can contact Managing Editor Thomas Howard at email@example.com