It was nearly a year ago in May of 2020 when I wrote an opinion editorial on the murder of George Floyd. Here I am a year later writing about another death of an unarmed Black man killed during a traffic stop in Minnesota while in Virginia an Afro-Latino U.S. serviceman was mistreated and berated by officers for a different vehicle infraction.
The killing of Daunte Wright in Minnesota by a 26-year police veteran, and former president of the local police union, who has stated she mistook her heavily weighted firearm for her lite-weight taser, is proof that training is not enough. The lack of judgement on the part of the officer cost Mr. Wright, age 20, his life.
Lt. Nazario’s brutal verbal and physical attack by Virginia officers was unprovoked, well beyond abusive, and displayed a staggering amount of aggression by officers who could have communicated with Lt. Nazario in the same calm and respectful manner the active-duty lieutenant displayed and provided the officers. Lt. Nazario was never arrested, never detained, nor cited. A false police report, however, was submitted wrongly presenting Lt. Nazario as a high-risk stop and a threat.
The tragic and unforgettable death of George Floyd a year ago has not altered the way law enforcement treats, responds to, and views individuals of color.
Policing, in its current form in our country, is in serious need of reformation; it is just not working. From recruitment to training to the overly aggressive and gang-like cultures forming in departments across our nation, we need to act now to ensure that public safety is a priority, and that police engagement is based upon de-escalation, not brutal force.
I have acted to implement reforms within law enforcement only to be met with resistance by unions who continue to espouse the good old days of lock them up and throw away the keys – a mentality of maintaining the status quo at the expense of Black and Brown communities.
Reforms, along with funding for community programs that lift people out from poverty and provide a proper education and pathway to greater economic futures, must be our priorities as a society.
The unjustified and continuous killing of unarmed people of color at the trigger-hands of a arrogant, undisciplined, and aggressive members of the law enforcement community must end and a new vision of policing in America must be discussed and formulated immediately.
Reggie Jones-Sawyer represents the communities of the 59th Assembly District including South Los Angeles, Walnut Park, Florence-Firestone and Huntington Park in the State Legislature, and serves as the Chair of the Assembly’s Public Safety Committee.
Please Support the following bills:
AB 89 PEACE ACT (Peace officer Education and Age Conditions for Employment [(PEACE] Act)
AB 750 False Reporting by Peace Officers
AB 1347 Bail Reform