When arriving in Washington D.C., the Micah Corps interns were very excited and eager to see what the week had in store. That same evening, several interns participated in a rally in front of the White House with a march to the Capitol to raise awareness of the recent injustices against people of color and to address the issues people face every day. Addressing how damaging these events are, due to the way people of color are treated in a systematically oppressed world, alerts the media and communities to what is going on.
Later, during our time at the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS), Micah Corps interns had the privilege of meeting with Hilary Shelton, director of the Washington bureau of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In our meeting, he addressed pressing issues in our neighborhoods and communities.
The correlation between attending the rally and meeting with Shelton was the protest jargon related to police brutality. “Hands up, don't shoot!” “No justice, no peace, no racist police!” were just some of the phrases being used during the rally. Treatment by law enforcement, which is one of the most concerning issues for many African Americans, was a heavy topic of the afternoon with Shelton.
Protection of our communities requires adequate law enforcement. Shelton presented a statement on trust between police and the community.
“If you undercut the trust and integrity and perception between those living in local communities and the police department, you will indeed undercut the very fabric of the protection you provide. If citizens don't trust the police, they aren't going to tell them something is going to happen because they do not trust them.”
This issue being addressed calls us to recognize that the relationship between the people is breaking down. Because of the views that the community has about the police force, it is difficult for them to reach out and make their voices heard when they sense there is a problem. This may cause people to feel their safety is even more in jeopardy because information is withheld, thus making everybody less safe. The second issue that correlates with this one is “If the police do not have the trust and integrity of the people they serve, even after a crime has been committed, if no one will talk to them, they will not be able to solve those crimes.”
The concern now is whether law enforcers cannot prevent crime or even solve crime happening in the communities they serve.
There are as many different use-of-force policies as there are police departments. There are just as many interpretations of those use-of-force policies as there are police officers,” says Shelton.
The challenge presented as the NAACP continues to move forward is that the police department is the one to judge whether the police department is in the wrong or even accountable for any given legal situation.
Possible corruption in police departments is just one small part of the problem. As young people, it is important that we acknowledge these injustices so that we can be the change and work for a better system and future for all.
Read more about the Black Lives Matter movement.
See a video story about a rally in Wichita.
This commentary was provided by Sydney Duffy, Micah Corp intern.