News Americas, PHILADELPHIA, PA, Tues June 9, 2020: Recent events in recent days have shown that our democracy is imperfect but has the elasticity to bend, but not break.
The short victories experienced by the Black Lives Matter Movement and civil rights sympathizers will quickly evaporate if not checked by moderate pragmatic leaders.
The country seems to be dead set on jumping off a cliff into a Trump-led conservative racist abyss; or jumping off a corresponding cliff of radical leftist thinking run by anarchists. Both are bad. Ninety percent of Blacks do not want the police defunded. Instead, what we need is practical, solutions-based leadership that will address the imperfections in our union, towards a more equitable and just society.
Police departments need internal and external reform, including retraining; utilizing non-lethal methods for the unarmed; recruiting and promoting a more diverse force; retraining for all policing methods; diversity and inclusion training; training on black/police history; de-escalation training; and revamping police arbitration.
The racial divide that has recently been exposed is fueled by a separate and unequal public education system that is funded through property taxes, whereby wealthy areas are flush with dollars for education, but poor areas do without; an educational system which in some areas has become a pipeline for prison.
In addition, the racial divide exposes a socio-economic system where black wealth is 10 times less than white wealth on a per capita basis; the black unemployment rate is 2 times that of whites, and the barriers to access to capital are much greater for blacks, and black business owners, as evidenced by the Payroll Protection Program.
Blacks are five times more likely to be arrested versus whites, and thus serve as fuel for the burgeoning criminal justice industrial complex. The recent events in Minneapolis, Georgia and Louisville, Kentucky illuminate the need for reform.
In 2016, the CATO institute conducted a National Survey on Criminal Justice. It examined what Americans wanted from their police departments. Here are the results:
- Have outside agencies investigate police misconduct – 79%
- Retrain to prevent and ban racial profiling – 63%
- De-escalation training as part of all basic training – 68%
- Wear body cameras – 89%
- Notify citizens when car stop is voluntary and when they can decline a search – 73%
- Ban military weapons used by police – 53%
- Treat drug offences like traffic violations – 54%
- End civil asset forfeiture where police take suspects money and assets– 84%
- Ban neck restraints – 67%
- Implement early warning system to identify abusive officers – 80%
- Eliminate mandatory minimum sentences – 66%
- Cut prison sentences for non-violent offenders – 72%
- Allow non-violent offenders to vote 73%
A recent survey showed that the majority of Americans support peaceful protests, but 71% of Americans support sending in the national guard if protests turn violent. It is clear that if the movement is taken over by a few radical/leftists whose call is to defund the police, then the recent civil rights victories that have been won, particularly in stirring the conscience of all Americans, will evaporate.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Mr. Blane Fitzgerald Stoddart Is A Jamaican Immigrant President and CEO, BFW Construction Project Management a Small Business Advocate In The Greater Philadelphia Region and a Commissioner, PA Governor’s Commission on African American Affairs.