This is not just a matter of “a few bad apples” in the police department
The televised killing of George Floyd has slapped this country awake. It has forced this country, among other things, to begin a long overdue frank discussion of race relations in this country. We need to have that discussion in earnest. But this is often regarded as a black/white issue. It’s more complex than that. It’s more encompassing than that. While America conducts that discussion, Latinos generally find themselves locked outside the room.
Like African Americans, those of us whose roots are in Mexico and Latin America in general, have been treated with brutality by the police for generations in cities throughout this country. In the early part of the 20th century while Blacks were being lynched in Mississippi, mexicanos were being lynched in equal numbers in Texas. Let’s talk about that. Let’s also talk about the legacy of pernicious Asian Exclusion Acts aimed at keeping this country white, legally. And in our national discussion, let’s not overlook the genocide our indigenous brothers and sisters were subjected to. It’s a broad societal issue, but it’s crystallized today by the belligerent actions of the police throughout the United States.
There are valid ideas out there about how to reform the police. It’s not just about individual bad guys, it’s about the overriding attitudes and temperament of whole police departments. We need a discussion about the very role and function of the police in our communities. Why is it that jaywalking sidewalk can end up with a death sentence at the hands of a cop on the street? The idea of changing the mentality – and role – of the police department from that of a “Warrior” to that of a “Guardian” is a good place to start. It will take time and effort to change the attitude and actions of police departments. But was there ever a better time to start? And it’s not simply a black and white issue. And, by the way, if you think the recent demonstrations were massive and explosive, just imagine what things will look like if the cops are acquitted by a white jury.
Copyright by Luis Torres. All images in the public domain.