Americans are seeing new faces of power deal with the racial imbalance that lurks within the shadows of government. Protecting the law has been proven to be a position that reflects the tolerance of the nation and its leadership. As much as it is within the constitutional right for every man to receive equality, there is evidence that proves the system suppresses Black and Brown people, thus creating a world that is less than equal among different communities.
Senator Steve Bradford and Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer led a joint press conference, fully addressing the inequalities festering in the pit of every community; Black and Latin X citizens are targeted by sworn in officers of the law, and the reckoning for change is at the doorsteps of this nation.
“I’m excited about where we are, as it relates to our opportunities to address some of these disparities, from over-arrest, over-charging, over-sentencing—the opportunities to deal with some of the things that have been brought forth over the last nine months, with the death of George Floyd,” said Sen. Bradford. He opened the conference with a look of seeing a familiar foe, he continued to peel back the evidence and layers of injustice that the collective community seen for generations.
A number of policy makers sat in many conferences, putting in the hours to create a force powerful enough to turn a new page within law enforcement. Sen. Bradford acknowledged the deep imprint left by the Legislative Black Caucus; narrating new policies looking to protect citizens of color and eradicate the institutional racism that lives in the fine print of the law set to protect all Americans.
“We plan to continue in that same vein,” Sen. Bradford said while expressing his gratitude of the partnership with Assemblymen Jones-Sawyer. Sen. Bradford continued to share in full transparency, the happenings within the trenches of Capitol Hill.
“Many times when we as African Americans champion some of these issues of criminal justice reform, we are told, ‘ it’s unnecessary,’ or ‘you’re over exaggerating the situation,’ but I think the proof is in the pudding that this is clear and we are not only attacked in the community physically, mentally, and psychologically by police, but we as elected officials are targeted.” Bradford said this in reference to Jones-Sawyer’s incident; when the head by the state prison guards’ union ran a campaign advertisement against the Assembly member.
The weed of racism living among the garden of public policy has deep historical roots, two minds of legislative power met January 5. to discuss the process of ripping it out in order to prevent further damage to the nation’s growth. Reconditioning of the criminal justice system is only a fraction of the solution, according to Bradford, the bill Assemblymen Jones-Sawyer led looks to address the full extent of education and development of police officers.
There are many links to public safety, this includes: the physical protection of the community, the prison system, and the judicial review of cases. With a global pandemic adding to the light illuminating the tunnels of inequity, 59th District Assemblymen Jones-Sawyer shared his thoughts and wanted to make one thing clear, he stated, “While this may be historic, you may not see much change in how we approach criminal justice on both committees … ”
Jones-Sawyer has found unity in small pockets of the legislative forefront that are fighting for justice in its entirety. He said, “it’s about what the people want.” Allies in the fight for inclusive justice were named, Sen. Nancy Skinner, known for promoting a racial balance and substantial reform. However, Jones-Sawyer made it clear, the rope tethering this push for equity is derived from the people. He said, “It’s the people who gave us the power, we are just implementing Prop 57, we are just implementing Prop 47, we are just the agents for what the people want.”
Jones-Sawyer addressed the want of the people equates to “a new way of doing things,” especially within Black and Brown communities. He admitted his initial reservation on working on the criminal justice platform, but he was called to lead the public safety budget, where he was exposed to the elements that induced his passion for criminal justice reform.
The goal for this meeting is to show a united front in sculpting fair justice in American law. One of the thorns addressed, pricks the fingers and draws blood directly from the people. The loopholes found in public safety affects more than the careers of the officer, it adds unforeseen dangers among communities.
Jones-Sawyer highlighted the misbehavior of cops share the same weight that would be fortified by an average citizen. However instead of prison, unlawful police officers have the option to relocate to a different jurisdiction, without serving a serious sentence for the crimes they committed.
The call-to-action Jones-Sawyer presented was simple, he said, “We owe citizens in this state to create a law and ultimately create a system where we can make sure that they no longer become law enforcement officers or practice it, they lose that … ” Jones-Sawyer went on to explain the lively discussion surrounding the level of immunity set aside for officers of the law.
Both committees headed by Jones-Sawyer and Bradford, are looking to form the best decision that brings in an air of change to policies surrounding protection of the people. Parts of the united proposal include developing a stronger adhesive to the education needed before joining the force, looking at the age of officers, and the level of collegiate experience with classes in social work and mental health.
Racial inequity has always laid dormant below the surface of American soil. Sen. Bradford and Assemblymen Jones-Sawyer look to dismantle the unstable foundation the national policies were built upon, especially in regard to protection of the people. They shared in vulnerability, that their united agenda is being met with apprehension. However, the challenge is not about the uprooting of the archaic policies that allow the inequality to continue, every lawmaker presumably are looking to improve the country, the battle is in the stages of how to overcome the misplaced power and get to a new reality of equality.