They have dismissed almost completely the issues of police and criminal justice reform and social justice.
In New York last week, a black man who earned his fame on the tennis court was hurled to the ground by a plain-clothed NYPD officer who didn’t identify himself upon approach.
Unlike most cases involving excessive force by police, this one exacted an almost immediate apology from the Police Commissioner, even the Mayor was ashamed that Mr. James Blake, a retired professional tennis player, was misidentified as a criminal and treated with such disregard by an NYPD officer.
In Baltimore—a City that erupted into civil disobedience this spring after 25-year-old Mr. Freddie Gray, also a black man, died in police custody—a trial is impending for a host of police officers accused of gross transgressions, including one charged with depraved heart murder.
The situation was so egregious, and the response from the government so unsophisticated, that the current mayor, who months ago replaced the Police Commissioner, has pledged not to seek re-election.
In Philadelphia, young activists—often affiliated in some manner with the national Black Lives Matter movement—have been protesting the fatal officer-involved shooting of Mr. Brandon Tate-Brown, a 26 year-old black man who was murdered on December 15th, 2014, while unarmed and fleeing.
The protests, at times, have been so disruptive, that it has halted rush hour traffic on several occasions and once caused the Police Commissioner to suspend a lecture.
The Philadelphia Police Commissioner, Mr. Charles Ramsey—who requested the Department of Justice take a hard look at his operation (they did and found massive problems, like the use of deadly force)—was selected this year by President Barack Obama to co-chair a task force on 21st Century policing and to come up with recommendations to advance the field, while improving how officers interact and relate to the communities they serve.
In cities across the country—whether it’s Cincinnati and the unjust killing of Mr. Sam DuBose, Cleveland and the drive-by shooting of Mr. Tamir Rice, outside of Houston with Ms. Sandra Bland or in North Carolina where Mr. Michael Slagger shot several times at a black man, killed him, and then lied about the incident—instances have occurred that exacerbates the trust deficit among people of color and law enforcement, every location’s gravity in the issue is different, but a malady remains nonetheless.
It is with this truth that I now find myself questioning the motive and legitimacy of the last two GOP debates, as they have dismissed almost completely the issues of police and criminal justice reform and social justice, not even giving it the spotlight last night during the pre-show where the four candidates who rank the lowest in the polling answered questions from moderators.
Last night, with more than four hours of air time in totality, never once was a victim of police brutality named in connection with a question about mitigating racial profiling or curbing police misconduct.
So much time, however, was used for combat, allowing candidates to argue back and forth with each other in a fashion that would make sophomoric jesters look regal.
Often regulated as a black issue, unmitigated police violence, and more importantly its aftermath, is an American problem, if for no other reason than because the money cities use to pay settlements to victims or their families comes from a pot of tax dollars, of which all races contribute, not just black Americans.
Social security, foreign affairs, nuclear weapons—all of which was discussed last night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library during CNN’s Republican Presidential Debate—are all important, but they don’t trump (no pun intended) police brutality, in fact they equal it.
All the aforementioned issues, in some way, has an impact our democracy, trust in government and future, thus they deserve equal time.
Ignoring such a national problem while having the nation’s attention is irresponsible at best, and at worst, racially insensitive. And for damn sure, this major overlook has by no means helped the GOP appear more attractive to black voters, at least not the ones I know.
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Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP