I, along with the membership of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People (DCABP) am incensed by the ongoing violence taking place around the country.
That violence includes police shootings and killings of African Americans in situations such as those last week in Louisiana and Minnesota that prompted nationwide protests, the killing of five police officers and wounding of seven other officers and individuals during a protest in Dallas, and the ongoing violence in African-American and other communities across the country.
This has to stop. We are tired of the bloodshed that is taking the lives of so many people, including young African-American men dying at the hands of each other as well as police officers, and police officers and others being killed in senseless attempts at revenge.
While the anger, grief and heartache over the events last week remain, we must continue to press for solutions to serious issues rather than turn on each other with faultfinding and accusations that do nothing to solve the problems.
The DCABP established a public safety committee chaired by Clarence Birkhead, a former police chief, several months ago to work on these kinds of problems. Although the committee has not taken a position on the matter yet, I see no reason that civilians need to own assault rifles. While the debate over gun control and gun rights continues, part of the problem is the easy availability of assault rifles and other firearms in the United States, which happen to include our urban areas.
We are encouraged that we have a new police chief in Durham who seems to have the background, skills and willingness to make some of the needed changes in policing in Durham. DCABP members will be watching to see not only what she says but what she does as she assumes leadership of the Durham Police Department.
We advocate both nationwide and in Durham that:
▪ police and other law enforcement officials modify and improve training, procedures and the way officers often view and interact with African-American citizens
▪ police and other law enforcement officials adopt sensible use-of-force policies, and institute de-escalation techniques and anger management training for all law enforcement officers.
▪ police and other law enforcement officials diversify their ranks. In addition, having officers live in the jurisdictions where they work would enable them to connect and recommit themselves to the core values of protecting and serving their own communities,
▪ the state legislature enact “sunshine laws” that require public access to police body-cam videos.
African-American citizens in particular need to stand together to stop the plague of violence within our own communities
Omar Beasley is the chairman of the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People.