Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd are just the latest in a long line of senseless killings that have exposed America’s centuries-old institutionalized and systemic racism. In the case of George Floyd, the video of his slow and deliberate murder is impossible to watch without dissolving in anger. The question is, will this and the other recent murders finally be the catalyst for fundamental change?
The persistence of thousands upon thousands of protestors, black and white, young and old, daily demanding justice and equality even when beaten and teargassed gives us hope that this is the inflection point in our history, that this time is different. Whether that is the case, however, depends on what we all do next.
To quote Senator Booker, “The question isn’t, are you or are you not a racist? The question is, what are you doing about it?” We need to raise our voices against the wrongs of centuries of injustice if we are to have any hope for our criminal justice system and society. This is the time for all of us to act.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED
Here are three excellent resources on Criminal Justice Reform. The first two are designed for advocacy and include toolkits.
- Campaign Zero—A comprehensive police reform platform started by activists associated with Black Lives Matter
- The Obama Foundation’s New Era of Public Safety: An Advocacy Toolkit for Fair, Safe, and Effective Community Policing
Last December, New Jersey Attorney General Grewal announced a package of statewide law enforcement policies, Excellence in Policing Initiative, to improve the professionalism, accountability, and transparency in law enforcement.
At the local level, join in or help form campaigns to reduce police violence. Here are three suggestions:
- Demand community input and oversight from your elected leaders. Advocate for a civilian complaint oversight board, if it does not exist.
- Find out whether your town or city police are equipped and wearing body cameras. If not, advocate for their implementation.
- Make sure your police department has posted and is adhering to specific policies and reporting guidelines to limit the use of force as outlined in the Campaign Zero material and the Attorney General’s initiative.
At the state and national level, reduce racial inequality by:
- Ensuring quality, affordable health care for all. Join BWNJ’s Health Care Group.
- Working for environmental justice. Join BWNJ’s Environmental Group.
- Protecting and expanding our voting rights. Join BWNJ Election Reform Group.
- Getting out the vote this November. Stay tuned for more info on BWNJ’s election activities.
- Advocating for a fairer NJ budget. Follow the work of New Jersey Policy Perspectives and the action items of the Coalition for the Many NJ.
- Supporting the New Jersey campaign for Restorative Justice. Urge your state legislators to pass and Gov. Murphy to sign into law (S322/A711), which would form a Reparations Task Force to recommend substantial investments into communities of color.
Also do not forgot to fill out your Census form.
Remain safe and thank you for your activism.
Marcia Marley and the Team at BWNJ