General Question

Soubresaut's avatar

What are you doing to help make sure reform happens?

Asked by Soubresaut (13707points) June 3rd, 2020

Racial injustice. Police using excessive force. Lack of accountability. (If I’m leaving something out, please mention it).

I thought if people shared the things they were doing, or shared efforts they knew about, we might help each find ways to be active parts of the solution.

So, with that in mind:

What are you doing, or what could someone do, to help make sure reform happens?

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23 Answers

canidmajor's avatar

Physically I am past my protest and marching days, so now I donate. ACLU, NAACP, Southern Poverty Law Center, places like that. I am still researching the best uses of my $ for the most recent of circumstances.

In a younger day I thought people that “threw money at” a problem were lazy and simply couldn’t be bothered. Now I understand that none of these efforts can be implemented without a certain amount of money, whether it is used to bolster reform (counselors, small business help, food programs etc) in troubled communities, or to pay a wage to the attorneys who have devoted their skills to social justice.

gondwanalon's avatar

I make sure to be nice and kind to other people.
There is only one race. The human race.

janbb's avatar

I have gone to rallies in recent years but stayed away from our local one on Monday because of Covid concerns. Like @canidmajor, I have donated money to orgs that are fighting for police reforms, civil rights and bail funds. I posted a list on FB of organizations that one can donate to right now. The ACLU has a special campaign on and the NAACP is collecting for legal fees and bail funds as well. Funnily, I tried to donate to a Minnesota Freedom Fund but they said they were putting a hold on accepting donations as they were a small organization who had collected 20 million already and were trying to figure out how to handle it!

I think there will also be actions – perhaps meetings with local police forces – in the future that my congregation, which is very focused on social action, will take that I will participate in.

Jaxk's avatar

I’m not sure what needs to be done. The killing of George Floyd was a travesty but the officer is being held accountable. We already have laws against what happened and they are being enforced. The officer (perpetrator) is facing murder charges. The officers that did nothing to stop it are facing 50 years in prison.

I don’t support defunding or eliminating the police. With the country being burned to the ground by looters and rioters That would be disaster. So what, besides screaming and yelling do we want changed? There are about 700,000 police officers in the US. I can think of no law that would insure we’ll never have a bad one. 13 people have died since the rioting began. That seems like a heavy toll for this protest.

So what is the goal and how do we get there?

SQUEEKY2's avatar

@Jaxk Yes they have been charged and that’s good ,BUT!!!! Let’s wait and see what kind of sentence they will get after their time in court.
Think things are bad now, lets see what happens if they get just a slap on the wrist after their time in court, didn’t they aquit the officers in the Rodney King beating?
And that was filmed as well.

Soubresaut's avatar

@Jaxk I’m not the best person to answer this, so I’m hoping others that know more about the broader context and specific information can chime in. But since I started the thread I figured I should offer a response.

Part of the problem is that officers are often not held accountable for situations like this. If not for people using camera phones and social media to show the truth of what happened, it’s very likely that the officers who killed Floyd would not be being held accountable right now, either.

But it’s also that this isn’t an isolated incident. Holding one man, or four, accountable for this one murder does not solve the larger problem of police violence against citizens. So systems for accountability need to be improved.

And it’s also that even if we could rely on the court systems to hold officers accountable, we’re still left with someone dead, and someone (or some few) who killed them, each time this type of thing happens. That’s still not justice. Justice would be doing a better job of preventing that from happening in the first place.

And it’s also that police violence disproportionately happens to people who are black (and more broadly, people of color)—and in cases where these situations do make it to the courts, juries are more likely to let off white officers who have killed black citizens than others. No one should find that acceptable.

Jaxk's avatar

@SQUEEKY2 – As I recall the officers that beat Rodney King went to prison. They beat one charge but were found guilty in federal court. Kind of hard to say they got off.

mazingerz88's avatar

First I try to get a clear understanding of both sides, all sides of an issue. For example police reform in the US. After a certain politician is elected with power to do something about the issue, I try to follow what this leader with power plans to do.

If to me it makes sense then within my closest social circle ( co-workers, friends, family, neighbors etc. ) either I initiate a discussion about it as gesture of support simply spreading this leader’s good plan to others.

I listen to their opinions. They may or may not agree but at least I was able to put out there what I believe was important information.

I forgot what Obama did with regards to police reform years ago. This recent editorial reminded me about that. And now I just learned what trump did with those Obama plans. I liked those Obama plans. trump didn’t.

What can I do now to give a chance for those same reforms to be implemented? Ask people to vote for a Democrat in November. Not sure what else I could do.

Here is that Washington Post editorial.


A FEW HOURS after President Trump took the oath of office in 2017, the White House issued a statement vowing to reverse what it called a “dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America,” a promise consistent with his so-called law-and-order campaign stances: endorsing the death sentence for those who kill officers; defending police accused of misconduct in officer-involved shootings; favoring tough tactics such as “stop-and-frisk.”

Many law enforcement agencies and officers cheered, including the head of the police union in Minneapolis, Lt. Bob Kroll, who, appearing at a rally with Mr. Trump last fall, lauded a president who “put the handcuffs on the criminals instead of us.”

Mr. Kroll, who has warned of a rush to judgment against the officer who kneeled for more than eight minutes on George Floyd’s neck, does not represent all police. But he does give voice to a considerable number who deeply resented President Barack Obama’s efforts to nudge the nation’s 18,000 police departments toward modest reforms that, had they taken root more broadly, might have strengthened the bonds officers need to serve their communities — and that citizens need to feel safe.

Those Obama-era reforms have been systematically rolled back by the Trump administration, which in the process has signaled that it will not concern itself too greatly if police push to, and beyond, the limits.

When Mr. Trump on Monday demanded that governors “dominate” protesters and rioters, it was in line with the “rough” tactics he admires and his recommendation that officers should not be “too nice” when arresting suspects.

By contrast, a task force appointed by Mr. Obama urged that police assume roles not as “warriors” but as “guardians.” In that spirit, his administration restricted supplies of surplus military equipment to police forces and, through the courts, pursued consent decrees requiring broad reforms for departments where abuses had been systematic.

Despite those initiatives, Mr. Obama was only beginning to advance his policing task force’s recommendations, which included stricter rules against racial profiling; federal policies to encourage more diverse police hiring; independent investigations and prosecutions for officer-involved deaths; and more published information from departments detailing detentions, arrests and crimes, broken down by demographics.

To Mr. Trump, those recommendations, and Mr. Obama’s actual policies, amounted to a “war on police.” His administration has reinstated the supply of military equipment to police and distanced itself from consent decrees.

The Trump White House has also turned a blind eye to the systemic racism most African Americans believe, and studies confirm, they confront in dealing with police; according to Robert C. O’Brien, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, it does not even exist.

Mr. Trump’s dog whistles and bullhorn blasts help ensure that police will remain unaccountable — rarely indicted when they kill unarmed people; frequently cleared when they are disciplined; often reinstated when they are fired for misconduct.

They suggest there will be no change in racial profiling or unjustified officer-involved killings.

Having torn up his predecessor’s blueprint, Mr. Trump now has nothing to offer — no prescriptions, no healing and no vision beyond a status quo many Americans abhor. In reality, his slogans and impulses signal a disrespect for law, and path away from order.

Jaxk's avatar

@Soubresaut – You make a lot of claims in your last paragraph that I don’t think you can back up.

Jaxk's avatar

@mazingerz88 – That is an opinion article and as with most liberal articles it is based on assumptions regarding what Trump thinks or wants. If you want to address the reinstatement of officers, you need to address the union. As with most unions and especially government unions, they make it extremely difficult to fire or even discipline any of their members. It’s not a Trump thing it’s a union thing.

As I’ve said on another thread, there have been 13 people killed in the last week of rioting, most of them black. A little ‘Law and Order’ sounds pretty good right now.

Soubresaut's avatar

@Jaxk—if you mean I don’t have statistics and sources off the top of my head, you are right, I don’t. I would need time to go find them, which is why I hope someone who has those sorts of things/knows where to link them more easily can jump in to provide them, and why I said “I’m not the best person to answer this.”

You yourself cited a statistic on another thread that said that only twice the number of white people are killed by police as black. Given that census data suggests there are currently between 4 and 6 times as many people who are white than black in this country, that seems like a good starting point.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

@Jaxk I looked it up you are right but only two of the four officers in the King beating served jail time.
The Police do seem to go lightly on their own , that is why an independent government board like we have here has to investigate police wrong doings.

Jaxk's avatar

@Soubresaut – Your numbers are correct but the number should not be equated to population but rather arrests. There are approx 10 million arrests per year (the number has been dropping each year for at least the last decade). If 50% of those arrested are black, the number will be disproportionately nigher.

According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, in the year 2008 black youths, who make up 16% of the youth population, accounted for 52% of juvenile violent crime arrests, including 58.5% of youth arrests for homicide and 67% for robbery.

Here’s an article that discusses this in length. You’ll find much in there to support your supposition but also some that conflicts. It’s an interesting read when you have the time.

Jaxk's avatar

@Soubresaut – Just for the hell of it, I’ll throw another statistic at you from this report

“According to the new National Crime Victimization Survey published by the Bureau of Justice Statics, out of the 593,598 interracial violent victimization crimes between blacks and whites reported in 2018, 90 percent were black against white, and 9.5 percent were white against black”. That doesn’t fit the liberal narrative.

Soubresaut's avatar

@Jaxk—I see your point that comparing deaths to just population numbers doesn’t necessarily work. I’ll use that as an example of why I am not the best person to be explaining this.

You said ”if 50% of those arrested are black.” Is that an actual number or an example?

The Wikipedia article seems to cover a wide number of ways that there is racial disparity in the justice system, some of it systemic, some of it apparently due to apparent bias by people operating within the law enforcement system. I saw it also looked at some of the socioeconomic factors behind crimes, which are also relevant. When I read that page, I see that the issue is rather complex, but I don’t see evidence that suggests that racism isn’t part of the story?

I was looking for studies and found an article that has links to over one hundred studies looking at this issue, and it already included any studies that I had found with random web searches. The author studies the subject, and says in the introduction that most of the studies are peer-reviewed or are reviews of data. I’ll link it here to share with you, though I realize it probably won’t be persuasive on its own right, for a couple of reasons—I realize that just having a list of links isn’t in itself very convincing (and shouldn’t be), and I realize the list will probably seem tainted because the article was published in the Washington Post, despite it functioning more as a catalog than an article. The list also probably has a lot of overlap with studies cited in the Wikipedia article, though I didn’t compare.

Jaxk's avatar

@Soubresaut – You’re right in that I don’t see that list as very convincing. I do however see an area where we may find agreement. That is what I consider prosecutorial misconduct. Prosecutors have way too much power and the practice of piling on charges to get a guilty plea is abusive. I believe that is abusive whether you are black or white. The fact that you say you didn’t do the crime should not result in massive additional charges. I’ve been on a jury where that practice was clear (at least to me). A man (black was charged with rape (a white women). The prosecutor also charged him with kidnapping and robbery. OK, he raped her, the DNA evidence was convincing. The kidnapping however was ridiculous, he pushed her over to the lawn area and the robbery didn’t happen. Now I’ll agree that the perpetrator was not a sympathetic person and may be deserved the max penalty but throwing in additional charges just because you can is not justified. I would feel the same regardless of the race of either party.

Prosecutors are incentivized to win rather than to seek justice. The more convictions the better the advancement. Show me how to correct that and I’ll jump on the bandwagon.

raum's avatar

Community has collectively been working and pushing for 8cantwait. Letters to local officials. Town halls. Now progressing into discussions of labor unions with city council members.

Soubresaut's avatar

@Jaxk—I think I agree with you on that.

Coincidentally, some of the studies on the Wikipedia article (and in the list I linked above) have found that African American and Hispanic defendants are more likely to receive longer sentences for equivalent crimes as white defendants, and in particular, a “2012 University of Michigan Law School study” found that “federal prosecutors of African American and Hispanic defendants are almost twice as likely to push for mandatory minimum sentences, leading to longer sentences and disparities in incarceration rates for federal offenses.” So your suggestion would probably help with a piece of the systemic racism that still exists within the judicial system.

The list shouldn’t have convinced you just upon seeing it. It would take going through the studies themselves, which obviously neither of us would have had time to do yet. But it does provide easy access to a wide range of studies, sorted by topic, and for that reason seems useful.

What does confuse me is that the Wikipedia page you linked states in its third introductory paragraph: “Research also indicates that there is extensive racial and ethnic discrimination by police and the judicial system,” and much of the rest of the page is summarizing the findings of studies that identify racial and ethnic discrimination across law enforcement. So I’m not really sure what we’re disagreeing about. Is it that I didn’t state things accurately and/or I didn’t cite sources? If so, I am very aware of both, and I tried to indicate I was aware of that when I first responded. Perhaps I should have done so more definitively.

… ... ...

I take some issue with the second article you offered, in that is seems to be assuming at least part of its conclusion from the get-go: that if you have been convicted (or in parts of their argument, it seems even if you have been arrested), you are one of the “bad guys.” It doesn’t seem interested in trying to figure out what factors are at play for any of its cited numbers—it has already decided the sole factor to consider; some people are simply “violent felons.” It also tries to act as if anyone who is talking about reform for police or the judicial system are trying to do away with laws or legal consequences for crimes, which isn’t true.

And its last sentence begins with this… um, gem: “The subtle bigotry of low expectations, pandering, and deflection will get people of all races killed…” yikes

Jaxk's avatar

@Soubresaut – The second link was for the statistic on interracial crime. I was amazed that 90% of the interracial violent crime was black on white. There is a problem with the black crime rate and that may contribute to a seemingly harsher sentencing. It’s not clear to me whether you (the collective you not personal) want harsher sentencing for whites or more lenient sentencing for blacks. Neither change would in my opinion solve any problem. The real problem as I see it, is the proliferation of crime in the black community. Why and how to reverse that trend is the issue.

YARNLADY's avatar

Personally, I believe the best path is to live my life in the best example possible and encourage my children and grandchildren to do the same. My entire family, including a long line of ancestors have done the same. This includes hundreds, if not thousands, of people.

Soubresaut's avatar

@Jaxk—as far as sentencing goes, it’s not about being harsher or more lenient to one particular demographic, it’s about equal sentencing for equal crimes. Right now that is not what happens in this country.

As far as crime rates, from what I understand—and from what the Wikipedia article you linked supports—the disparity in crime rates between “white” and “black” demographics has much more to do with socioeconomic factors than race, for multiple reasons—and some of those reasons may be due to how police operate in neighborhoods that are socioeconomically low. (Also, though, the fact that socioeconomic factors in this country are so closely tied to race is also result of racism—again for multiple reasons, one simple reason being that until very recently in US history, African Americans as a group were legally excluded from many economic opportunities).

Even so, if you are white and a victim of a violent crime, it’s far more likely the perpetrator was white than black. Intraracial crime is more common than interracial crime; by looking only at interracial crime statistics, that article omits that detail.

I think everyone would like to see crime rates reduce, especially people in areas where the crime rate is especially high. I doubt we can have a meaningful solution that addresses root issues without, as a country, facing both our systemic/institutional racism and our cultural beliefs about poverty (e.g. that it’s largely a result of laziness or moral failing). But I would also like to see issues addressed and trends reverse.

Jaxk's avatar

@Soubresaut – I know this is futile but I going to post anyway. You seem to say that most everything is a result of institutional racism, it’s not. I saw an interview with an oler black woman that had her shop looted and destroyed in the riots. She had been proving lunch for kids in her area. She said the thing that bothered her most was that they had been told by there parents that would never amount to anything, they would never succeed. So naturally they would turn to crime. I don’t have the interview but I’ll post the video of her in front her her shop so you know who I’m talking about, here.

I believe that constantly telling black kids that they are crippled by society, that they can’t succeed is taking a toll. If you tell someone that they can’t succeed often enough they will eventually begin to believe it. once they believe they can’t succeed, they have no alternative but to drop out of school and turn to crime. If we want the situation to improve we have to stop sending the message that they can’t and start sending the message that they can. There are plenty of examples of black men that have risen to the top as well as the middle income. Promote those examples and maybe the kids will have hope for the future

I’m not naive, I realize that some have an easier time than others. I also know that thinking you can succeed doesn’t guarantee that you will. But if you think you can’t, that will guarantee that you won’t. Ben Carson (noted Brain Surgeon and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development) tells a story about when he was growing up in the ghetto. Everyone around him was being told they would never amount to anything, that they couldn’t succeed but his mother told him that he could be anything he wanted to be. That inspired him and he did in fact succeed in an environment that made success difficult at best.

We, as a country, have made significant strides in race equality. We need more work but it may be time to start promoting some of the good things. Give the kids hope for the future instead of despair. That’s not a popular message right now but it’s what I believe.

Soubresaut's avatar

I guess we’ve been talking past each other. I thought we were trying to stay focused on racism within the police force and justice system, not look at all possible reasons that inequalities exist… and certainly not suggest that all issues of inequality have the same single solution. If that’s what you understood from what I said, I am genuinely baffled.

To the extent that people are promoting defeatist attitudes, sure, that isn’t productive.

To the extent that there are people identifying and trying to address specific injustices, saying they are just being defeatist and there isn’t anything to do except be more positive about everything is defeatist.

People can spread messages of hope while also seeking to address injustices. These aren’t mutually exclusive things. I would argue they actually complement each other.

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