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You can’t sleep peacefully in your own bed. Not if you’re Breonna Taylor. You can’t go jogging. Not if you’re Ahmaud Arbery. You can’t even walk home snacking on a bag of candy. Not if you’re Trayvon Martin. You can’t do ordinary things and live an ordinary life. Not if you’re Black in America.
I try my best to make people comfortable before plowing into hard subjects, but when it comes to the violence in Black people’s lives, especially when it involves the police, I’m so tired of white people being comfortable – or is it complacent? That George Floyd video ought to make anybody sick. But, in one form or another, that behavior continues. And we still don’t have reforms out of the Massachusetts legislature, let alone Congress.
The decision not to prosecute the officers in Louisville may be technically correct, but it’s wrong. Official violence with impunity is always wrong.
You can’t do ordinary things and live an ordinary life. Not if you’re Black in America.
Black people have had enough of being victims of police violence. It’s hard enough to be disproportionately poor, sick, unemployed, isolated and despairing without also having to be shot at when doing ordinary things. It’s hard enough living in a society where — from howling opposition to simple gun safety measures to the movies, music and video games we’re served up — we objectify violence and glorify destruction. But it is too much to ask us to endure official violence over and over again without accountability.
No-knock warrants, like the one the police sought to justify storming into Taylor’s home while she slept, make no one safer. Neither do “stand your ground” laws and so-called "Castle Doctrines." None of it is about law and order. They work together as a formula for chaos — and as new excuses for killing Black people without consequence.
I grieve for the Taylor family who, like too many other Black families, have no justice. I also grieve for police officers, the ones who know that there are better, safer ways to police than kicking in people’s doors.
Policing in America has to change for peace in America to exist.
To get that change we should start by voting out every legislator at every level of government who supports no-knock warrants, “stand your ground” laws or otherwise treats policing as an exercise in siege warfare – and who then want to shield police excesses from accountability.
Peace and order come from respect for the law and for those who enforce it. Lawmakers whose policies have created or encouraged violent policing and the lack of accountability for it have to go.
I pray that as we protest we show the strength of controlled resolve ... until America stops kicking down our doors and allows us be truly free.
And we have to vote in men and women who will take the change we need seriously. No more talk. No more being intimidated by police unions and empty “tough on crime” rhetoric. Only action. Smart, forward-looking, meaningful action. And we the voters must be prepared to hold them to account.
The hardest part of all may be staying calm. The people of Louisville are frustrated. So am I. In the face of the violence visited on Breonna Taylor by the police and on her family by the process, protest is more than justified – in Louisville and beyond. But we have to do so peacefully and not let the same agents of chaos provoke us.
I pray that as we protest we show the strength of controlled resolve, and channel our rage into the ballot box, and into necessary advocacy between elections, until America stops kicking down our doors and allows us to be truly free.
This segment aired on September 28, 2020.
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