This is an important question regarding the energy and outrage that we witnessed during the days following the George Floyd murder. Where is it now? Though we understood that folks were not going to be able to sustain public protest indefinitely, it is important not to lose sight of the need for continuing vigilance regarding the matter of police violence. The public advocacy group, Mapping Police Violence, reports that more than one thousand people have been killed by police since the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. This is an average of three deaths per day.
How much reporting has been done about their lives and deaths? What is the conversation that we are having regarding this continued issue of concern in our communities of color? How are we working as a collective of concerned people to make sure that this issue does not become mired in the sticky political processes that we have perfected in order to prevent ourselves from creating changes that bring too much discomfort? How can we challenge ourselves not to fall into gradualist thinking that makes it possible to settle for too little change in an effort to keep selected constituencies content?
Certainly, there has been some change across the country as a result of the loud outcry in 2020, but we have done what we do most times, found a way to defuse the energy around it to the point of supporting the danger of forgetting about it altogether. Those thousands who have lost their lives will not rest easy until we make substantial and sustainable changes that will result in greater safety and care for everyone.
It is time to have a better system for creating and maintaining public safety. Systems that support law enforcement personnel and citizens with whom they interact. The new systems have to address multiple issues. We have to move beyond being willing to settle for doing nothing more than what amounts to placing a bandage on a cancer when it comes to reorganizing ourselves in regards to our approach to public safety.
This work requires a willingness to use our imagination when thinking about what it means to design and implement policies and practices that maintain public safety, which includes enforcing the law but involves much more. Along with using our imagination, we must find a way to care about everyone involved and to place that caring concern at the core of all of the work that we do. If we can bring genuine care and imagination to the table, with the intention of being open to the best ways to go forward, many paths will open for us.
The Dioceses of Atlanta and Georgia are staying vigilant in the work of reimagining policing. It is slow and we are making the path as we go forward in some ways, but we are clear about the fact that this work is not optional and that we can find partners. It is central to any healing work that we dare to claim that we are embracing.
What is your community doing to reimagine public safety and policing? How are you staying connected to the importance of this issue to the overall project of facilitating racial healing in this country? How much care and imagination are you able to bring to the tables where there are conversations and efforts being made to find new ways ahead? How can you help to make sure that similar energy to that following the George Floyd murder can be generated as we go forward in this process of reimagination? What can you do and what are you willing to do? You are invited to join the Center for Racial Healing on October 19, 2021 at 6:00PM EST for a deeper conversation on this issue.