As Vice-Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus and Chair of the Senate Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color — and more importantly, as a human being — I am appalled by the senseless killing of George Floyd. His death is another tragic reminder of the police violence that has devastated Black families and communities for decades.
When will it end? Just last year California passed AB 392, a bill that redefines when deadly force by a peace officer is justifiable. This was a significant step forward but we have so much further to go before there is trust between police officers and the communities they serve.
After a life’s experience of social interaction, I’ve come to the conclusion that America doesn’t really have a problem with law enforcement because the status quo, works quite well for White America. Where they run to the police, we run from them, and not because of hatred, but out of fear.
In 2019 after fatally shooting a White woman, Mohamed Noor, a Black Muslim former Minneapolis Police Officer, with no video evidence, was immediately arrested and sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison. Officer Noor was the first convicted in Minnesota under this situation. Unfortunately, police are seldom imprisoned for killing Black men or women and there is no accountability.
America has a problem with race. It has reared its hateful head in every aspect of American life from healthcare, employment, education, jobs, housing, criminal justice, and most definitely in law enforcement. Its poison is deadly and unrelenting.
How long should Black America have to wait for justice, equity, and respect? We built this country through our blood, sweat, and tears. Now we continue to shed them due to heinous acts of police brutality and other racist actions. What we have again witnessed on TV was outright murder and for anyone to see anything less is just blatant disregard of Black life.
Yet again, many lay awake at night rattled by injustice.
How many more like George Floyd, Michael Brown, Philando Castille, Freddie Gray, Briana Taylor or Ahmaud Arbery must there be before America becomes “sick and tired of being sick and tired?”
There was no resistance, no fight, no angry Black man in George Floyd — just a grown man pleading for his mother, some respect, and his life for over 5 minutes as he lay dying in the street with a knee on his neck and two other cops holding him down.
This modern-day lynching is the latest in a long list of violent murders of Black men at the hands of the police.
It is the end result of inequity, injustice, and institutional racism that has existed in America for over 400 years. In the eyes of the majority, Black and Brown Lives are simply not valued the same as White Lives.
This is evident as we watched armed White men take over the state capitol in Michigan this past March. The fact that White men can openly carry weapons and be seen as expressing their 2nd Amendment rights, while unarmed Black men are viewed as an imminent threat, is beyond painful. It’s prejudice.
The latest senseless murder has brought resistance and revolt. And society has a tendency to focus on the resistance and revolt rather than the murder of a Black man. This police violence must stop.
Though there was an arrest, the police officers should have been arrested as soon as the video surfaced. If they were Black, they would have been in jail until the investigation concluded.
George Floyd’s death yet again exposes the blind spot on racism in America.
If our White brothers and sisters are to fight against racism then it is not enough for them to simply say they are not racist or that enslavement was long ago. They must speak out against racial injustice as if they too are individually impacted. In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
We are one country, and must act as though the actions of one affect the other. Many good law enforcement have spoken out against officers that act as bad actors and whose tragic actions overshadow their daily sacrifice to protect and serve.
Every officer involved must be held accountable now. Community policing must become mandatory and ethnic studies must become a part of our curriculums. This is essential if Black lives are ever to become equal as this great nation’s Constitution states.
No Justice. No peace. As the late Dr. Martin Luther King stated, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Justice requires all of us to no longer be neutral or stand on the sidelines in the face of racism, but to instead stand up and demand equality and accountability, together. There is no other way.
Senator Bradford represents the Los Angeles County communities of Carson, Compton, Gardena, Harbor City, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Lawndale, Lennox, San Pedro, Torrance, Watts, Willowbrook, and Wilmington. More about the Senator can be found at www.senate.ca.gov/Bradford