Racial Justice, Turning the Corner
The events of the past few months have left us horrified and at the same time heartened and inspired. As an organization that has promoted good governance for over 125 years, we are horrified at the recent high-profile police incidents and the disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 epidemic on communities of color. We are heartened to see so many people speak out and engage with their communities about the lack of racial equity in law enforcement and beyond. And we are inspired by the number of communities who are stepping up to collectively address these ills.
All around the country communities are convening conversations aimed at reforming law enforcement and addressing disparities further revealed in COVID-19 cases. After meeting with community leaders, Minneapolis adopted a half-dozen measures and is discussing restructuring the police department. Denver’s police chief held a town hall meeting on race and the city has adopted new policies to reduce the use of force and improve transparency. Several other communities are already taking action as well and many cities are taking another look at the report of the Commission on 21st Century Policing to see where they can improve.
In response to reports showing that people of color are contracting COVID-19 and dying at a higher rate, many cities are increasing outreach and services to these communities. Richmond, VA ramped up testing in low-income areas and Gainesville, FL, even launched a mobile testing truck to make testing more convenient. When the epidemic first hit, El Paso created new shelter space for the homeless and has drastically reduced infections among that population.
While much is being done, much more is needed. As a nation, we’ve been down the road of public anger and good intentions before and often seen little real change. The racial inequities that have become more obvious in the past few months are deeply embedded in our health and safety systems, as well as other segments of society. Lasting results require not only public protest, but dialogue, deliberation and action, with everyone at the decision-making table and everyone playing a role in creating a more equitable community.
Please join us for a webinar on Thursday, June 25th, highlighting some of the police reforms being implemented to improve public safety, build trust, and strengthen relationships with the community. Register here. Additionally, we encourage you to review the racial equity resources on our website.
Stay well and stay engaged!
Chair, Board of Directors
National Civic League
National Civic League