Relationships

What to Do After the Derek Chauvin Verdict

What to Do After the Derek Chauvin Verdict

Crowds in Minneapolis react to the verdict

On May 25, 2020, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck until he died — and yesterday a jury found Chauvin guilty on three charges: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

This is huge news because police officers have historically not been held accountable for killing Black men, women and children. President Biden called it a “much too rare” step to deliver “basic accountability” for Black Americans: “It was a murder in the full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see.”

And one reason people could so clearly see Floyd’s murder for what it was was because then-17-year-old Darnella Frazier, who was walking to get snacks with her nine-year-old cousin, stopped on the sidewalk and filmed everything. Tweets journalist Michele Norris: “Can we all sing a praise song for Darnella Frazier who had the presence of mind to film that video that made such a difference in this case and now must live with the memories that will walk alongside her for the rest of her years?”

When it comes to the verdict, the important word here is accountability culpability — not justice. Justice would be for George Floyd to still be alive today, playing with his six-year-old daughter, and for the entire system to be overhauled to fairly serve and protect everyone in the United States.

“While today’s verdict is a small win for police accountability and may help heal a grieving community, the systems that allowed George to be murdered — ripping him away from his family and the communities that loved him so much — remain fully intact,” says the ACLU.

Agrees Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “That a family had to lose a son, brother and father; that a teenage girl had to film and post a murder, that millions across the country had to organize and march just for George Floyd to be seen and valued is not justice. And this verdict is not a substitute for policy change.”

Then, yesterday afternoon, right as the jury was finding Derek Chauvin guilty of murder, a police officer fatally shot 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus, Ohio. How crystal clear is it that the system must change?

So, what can we do right now? Call your senators at 202-499-6085 and tell them that they must pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act — FYI, you’ll likely end up leaving a voicemail. (The full bill is explained here.) Let’s send over waves of phone calls from this community demanding action. Will you call and then comment below?

And of course take care of yourselves. Sending so much love to our Black readers especially and standing with you today and always. xo

George Floyd and his daughter

George Floyd with his daughter

P.S. The Race Matters column, and “how I feel now as a Black woman.”

(Top photo by Alex Kent/NYMag.)

  1. Betsy says...

    I just finished listening to a Small Town Dicks podcast on George Floyd. It aired about a year ago, just after his murder. It is about a half hour episode, and it was such an interesting listen. The Episode is titled: Behind the Badge: On the Killing of George Floyd. It was such an interesting listen, and I feel like it should be required listening for all.

  2. K says...

    What does Defund the Police mean? ~Half the people say “it just means reducing funds/reallocating resources sorry the term is vague”, ~half the people say “no, we literally mean defund as in cease funds as in dismantle and abolish the police.” We need to agree on a definition before we even make the decision whether or not we want to wave the slogan.

    ACAB stands for All Cops Are Bastards. How is this helpful to say? Should I say All Doctors Are Bastards because of the opioid crisis and endless malpractice cases? (To be clear, I think the answer is no). Reform is needed in both spheres, but I don’t think it’s productive to demonize individual cops and doctors.


  3. Nikki says...

    Contrary to what many think, a lot of Black mothers like me focus on facts (not emotions or propaganda) because we live in Black neighborhoods with our children.
    In all of 2020, 18 unarmed Black people, all adults involved in some sort of criminal activity, were killed by police in the U.S.
    So far in 2021, 18 Black/Brown children under the age of 13 (even as young as 1) have been killed in street violence in less than 4 months, by Black/Brown adults, NOT police.
    It would be amazing if leadership in this country (and those with a platform like you) would care about these innocent victims instead of making career criminals into martyrs which only further destroys Black lives (just ask Black business owners in the vicinity of where George Floyd died). I wish Mr. Floyd hadn’t died the way he did, but we cannot pretend he did not victimize many in his life, including a Black/Brown pregnant mother at gunpoint. He was out there “hooping” (his words as per the full video) and hadn’t seen his little daughter in years. How many of your readers would have welcomed him as their next door neighbor? Yet you ignore the killings of so many innocent children at alarming rates.
    It is heartbreaking for a Black mother like me to read so many comments completely absent of any facts. The “Black leaders” that you are listening to are nothing but RACE HUSTLERS. If you really want to improve Black lives in this country, PLEASE stop listening to Al Sharpton, et al.
    I’m pretty sure you won’t post my comment, but hopefully you will at least read it, Jo. Take care!

    • silly lily says...

      Nikki, thank you so much for this extremely important comment. I hope working through these issues leaves us ALL in a better and more hopeful place. Wishing (and yours) peace and safety.

    • Jas says...

      Bravo!!! Spot on!! Thank you for speaking out! We need to hear the voices of Black MOTHERS more. I am sure none of the influencers would love to raise kids around George Floyd (held pregnant woman at gun point) or Jacob Blake (pleaded guilty to two counts of disorderly conduct and domestic abuse).

    • Kiki says...

      Thank you so much Nikki for saying this!!!! This is what everyone needs to hear!!! Black on Black crime is a much larger issue in this country! Please try look to write stories on how to protect black communities rather than feeding into the larger media narrative that will ultimately end in a worse reality for black communities. We need to build and support the black family to protect and enrich their communities.

    • CM says...

      Thank you for this Nikki! I think that there any of these comments from Black/Brown mothers that can’t be ignored. I would love to see an entire blog post from those moms about what they’re really concerned about.

      Joanna?

    • Liz says...

      thank you for speaking up.

  4. Haley says...

    Joanna, thank you so much for posting about such an important topic. It’s really disheartening to read comments on here about “backing the blue” and “not all cops are bad guys” …which completely miss the point. I’m grateful to have your post and the comments about the much needed reform and pointing people in the right direction for the political participation to make change a reality

  5. kath says...

    Joanna, I know the responses to this might feel overwhelming (at least they seem so to me, especially the police worshipper ones) and I am glad you have been taking these stands, it would be so much easier to not say anything. So I just wanted to say I agree with you and appreciate your work.

    To all of those justifying the death of a child (Ma’khia Bryant), well, it just couldn’t be me.

  6. CK says...

    Really allowing “acab” comments to go through? I guess calling for killing is ok, if only it’s to the police? Pretty disappointing. Try remembering who ran into the buildings on 9/11, Joanna.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Thank you for your note, CK! We allow diverse opinions and perspectives on the site and encourage respectful debate. That said, we aren’t allowing people to call for killing. Thank you so much.

    • Hope says...

      CK, I understand your frustration as you read some of these comments, but please don’t attack Joanna. She is a good and kind person providing a forum for people to actually discuss these issues.

    • kath says...

      Police doing their jobs on 9/11 does not give them the right to go about killing people with impunity. Also, acab does not mean killing is ok, it’s actually a sentiment expressed in reaction to the killing being done by police.

    • S says...

      Do you even know what ACAB means?? The term doesn’t even reference “killing.”

    • Hope says...

      Ps: I do agree that Acab comments should NOT be permitted. It is a hateful slogan, and we wouldn’t allow hateful slogans toward other groups in society, so it is wrong to permit acab comments.

  7. Neets says...

    Hi Joanna, I wonder if it would be possible to have a politician like AOC write a piece on this for the readers. I feel like maybe it would be really useful to have someone directly connected to government who is speaking from fact and figures through their work to clearly articulate the issues.

    I am not African American, but I am a person of colour, and I am really really tired and exhausted of being told by the white population that they feel attacked.

    People of colour have been living this reality for so long. From when slavery begin, from when the British empire thought it was okay to invade a whole load of countries, divide and conquer, cause long lasting divisions that are still in existence. So please, yes our anger and frustration can be difficult to deal with, maybe it puts you in an uncomfortable position, but it’s coming from a deep place of hurt and frustration and exhaustion, and support is desperately required.

    I feel like it is the same as when your best friend is going through a trauma and snapping at you. Do you snap back, or do you be patient and do what you can to help?

    • Molly Witherington says...

      Good idea. If not a politician, I recommend reaching out to Jemar Tisby!

    • A says...

      Hi Neets,

      Respectfully, I don’t think having a politician like AOC write a piece is going to quiet the dissenters in this column. There seems to be a belief on the left that every person must agree with each one of your talking points, and if they don’t, they are either uneducated or are racist. Here’s another alternative – we’ve done the work, we’ve read the books, we’ve engaged with the talking points of BLM, defund the police, CRT, the ways in which we’ve been told we are oppressed or oppressors depending on where we fall in Kimberle Crenshaw’s intersectionality matrix, the language and the “right words” that are constantly changing and inflected with new meanings, some of which are said to cause violence and trauma when someone outside the loop misspeaks – and we’re tired and sick of what frankly comes across to me as a lot of virtue signaling bullshit.

      Consider this possibility. I’m a person of color, just like you. My ancestors are from a country that was oppressed and exploited by white people. I have experienced direct and systemic racism over the course of my life. Because of these facts about my identity, per your ideology, I should have just as much of a voice as you do, right? But when I’ve tried to voice a genuine criticism of the divisiveness of a movement that seems to paint all white people as the problem (and if you don’t admit to being part of the problem, that means you’re REALLY the problem, so you better fall in line!) I’ve been silenced by saying my perspective is not valid, that I’m a race apologist.

      What is it about my perspective that makes it less valuable than yours? There’s something wrong and deeply scary about a movement that can’t handle legitimate criticism and silences people either by saying they don’t have standing to speak (they are white/cis/male/insert oppressive category) or that, if they do, they need to be reeducated, or that they’re a traitor to their group. And if all of this fails, there’s the fallback of “I shouldn’t be burdened having to explain this to you. I’m exhausted” to shut down the conversation entirely. This isn’t the kind of behavior a legitimate reform movement engages in – this is what a religion looks like.

      There is so much good within the ideas of police reform and racial justice. There is nothing good to be had from a movement which demonizes white people, centers us in a culture of victimhood, overt virtue signaling, and silencing of all dissents.

      Please consider the possibility that there are people (and people of color) who deeply care about these issues just as much as you, people who come from the same kind of background and have the same experiences you do, who don’t agree with your prescription for solving this problem. I’m exhausted from hearing other members of my identity group are shouting over me and refusing to listen to any other opinions. I don’t need more education – I need people to engage with valid criticisms of the movement instead of silencing or canceling people who don’t fall into line.

    • Vero says...

      YES! I would love to hear from AOC and/or have Sonya Renee Taylor do an interview. I think those two people are able to break down complex ideas in a way that people can understand.

    • K says...

      I see you, A. I hope I’m not putting words in your mouth but for me personally I’m actively trying to mellow out all this “shame on you” language because I genuinely think it’s making things worse, first and foremostly as you allude to, by shutting down conversation with anger (and tbh, contempt). Sometimes it seems like people are giving bad faith interpretations– “so you are *justifying* the death of …” or “so you are blaming the victim” that seem to lose the thread of the point of pointing out all the problems. Spoiler: it’s not for the sake of blaming the victim and justifying the murders and deaths, but so that we can actually truly lessen and eliminate these tragedies. Calling only one side bad just isn’t true, and when it isn’t true, it isn’t going to solve the problem.

      It reminds me of 4 things that perhaps will be of some comfort to you that people think similarly

      1.This tweet from Ayishat Akanbi “Anyone selling you an enemy is also selling you a master.” https://twitter.com/Ayishat_Akanbi/status/1384066305590927368

      2. Conversation between Brittany Talissa King and Bret Weinstein https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3nuTSMUK-8&t=147s

      3. This quote from the Confucian text, The Great Learning
      “In ancient times, those who wished to make bright virtue brilliant in
      the world first ordered their states; those who wished to order their
      states first aligned their households; those who wished to align their
      households first refined their persons; those who wished to refine
      their persons first balanced their minds; those who wished to balance
      their minds first perfected the genuineness of their intentions; those
      who wished to perfect the genuineness of their intentions first
      extended their understanding; extending one’s understanding lies in
      aligning affairs.”

      4. This article “Integrity: Without it, Nothing Works” that I found via Leandra Medine
      https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1511274
      (side note: there’s quite a bit that I disagree with Leandra about, yet quite I bit I learn from her…isn’t it funny how a person isn’t just all good or all bad?)

    • Neets says...

      I think unfortunately my comment was not communicated well.

      The underlying point really is this, if someone is in a position of privilege, it would be greatly appreciated if this person made active change to enable someone who is of less privilege, to reach the same level of privilege.

      This path may be difficult, it may involve being hurt or feeling attacked or feeling misrepresented, but it is (I believe) the right thing to do.

      Now if many people of privilege are able to push past, what feels to me, like a dent to the ego and do what’s right to bring up the people around them to the same level, then that’s a movement.

      Right now, what it really feels like, is a billionaire telling the homeless on the street that the homeless have no right to envy him, or complain that there are so many billionaires out there doing nothing with their money, when in fact their businesses or companies are creating jobs and helping the economy. Yes perhaps true, but what about the excess money that’s lying around. The top one percent of households globally own 43 percent of all personal wealth, while the bottom 50 percent own only one percent. In the end the issue of privilege is the same no matter what context it is in.
      Maybe we can start by agreeing on that and working together towards levelling things out, instead of arguing over or being offended by the semantics

    • A says...

      K, thank you so much for your response, and for including those links – they’re really great.

      Neets, thank you for your clarification. I’m understanding that you think that since every single white person has had the exact same lived experience of immense privilege over every individual of any other race, no white person could have valid comments or criticism on any topic that intersects with race. Any thoughts or reactions they might express should be dismissed as “a dent to their ego”. Instead, they should remain silent until a non-privileged person like AOC can reeducate them on her vision for “active change”, which they should then blindly accept.

      My concern here isn’t semantics. It’s about the fundamental structure of a movement that only allows certain people to speak, and forces others to remain silent. AOC’s ideas could be the best ideas in the world. But if your call for getting people to “agree” and “work together” requires shutting up a group of people just because of their race, that’s deeply problematic.

  8. MK says...

    I’ve been an avid reader of COJ for over a decade. The bookmark has been saved on my desktop since right around when Toby was born, and has made its way into my daily routine for some of the most open, honest and thoughtful conversations around topics in life.

    Sadly, the comments on this thread, and many others, have made me think otherwise of the readers in this community. It saddens me to see people be so unkind in these comments, in a world that is continually unkind. If we cannot give compassion to the stranger on the internet, how can we give it to our spouses, our neighbors, our community?

    Signing off, COJ.

    • M says...

      Discourse and discomfort are necessary. White women often use “unkindness” to minimize and dismiss concerns of POC, while at the same time dodging any accountability, which props up white supremacy. If the conversation is only palatable to white audiences, it silences other audiences.
      I think the discourse happening here is not unkind- it’s important.

    • kath says...

      M, i completely agree with you. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    • W says...

      I am curious about what comments you found too unkind. I have always thought COJ is a much more civil place to have discussions. I left social media last year partially because the comment threads were out of control but I’ve never felt that way on here.

    • Anon says...

      m and Kathy: please correct me if I am wrong, but there is nothing in MK’s comment that says she is white. Perhaps it is a black woman writing the comment? I think this shows how assumptions are being made without really looking at all of the information.

    • Mary P says...

      Thank you for sharing this article. As a society we need to stop the foolishness of rash judgement and take time to focus on the facts. There are always two sides to the story.

    • a. says...

      There is never an excuse to kill a 16yr old, or anyone for that matter. There are tranquilizer guns/tasers etc. Many ways to incapacitate a threat. And they know that.

    • w says...

      A – cops don’t carry tranquilizer guns and a taser is not effective for this. The girl in the pink and potentially others would have died. The shoot is justified. I recommend you go to the Citizens Police Academy and do a ride along before you think you can expert witness.

    • kath says...

      Yes, there are always two sides to the story but that does not mean both sides carry equal moral weight. The killing of a child is never justifiable. The problem has always been policing – the whole system is rotten.

    • S says...

      You’re seriously trying to justify the shooting of a child. SHAME ON YOU. Don’t you understand that we have a system of justice that is being flagrantly ignored by police?

    • Laura says...

      Eyewitness accounts are notoriously faulty. This article describes neighbors never being an actual witness to this event, just hearing gunshots and reviewing a video. The article lets them conclude the facts of the story so they can justify the shooting of a child and get their 5 seconds of fame from appearing to be experts on the matter. The insinuation that neighbors and cops should be judge and jury, and the cops executioner, of a 16 year old girl is just absurd.

    • Anon says...

      Police officers don’t get to decide how much time there will be to react to a situation. That is decided by the criminal. What I mean is this: If someone is being attacked, and the orders to drop the weapon and put up their hands up are being ignored, and the attack continues, the police officer has to react to the situation as it unfolds. The criminal has made the choice and forced the “timeline”. What else is the police officer supposed to do? Stand back and let the other person get stabbed? It is sad, but I am guessing the girl whose life was saved and her family are relieved that she did not become the victim of a stabbing.

      I think we are forgetting that police officers come into a scene as the emergency is happening. They don’t have all of the information that journalists dig up, after the fact. They don’t have the criminal’s bio, or childhood story. The police step into a dangerous situation. It is often chaotic, it might be dark. They don’t know for sure what weapons might be concealed. If a person resists arrest, that person is putting him/herself and others at risk. Criminals are dangerous people, and police put themselves on the line each day to protect folks like you and me.

      Are police perfect? No. Of course not. Is there room for improvement? Absolutely. For example: More training (two dangerous jobs compared: police get under 500 hours of training. An electrician I think gets around 8000 hours of training). More staffing so that police are not exhausted and overworked. More phycological support and counselling to deal with daily trauma.

      There are a lot of good people out there doing their best at a job that frankly is not for everyone. It is a tough, thankless job and comes with plenty of trauma.

  9. w says...

    So was that officer in Columbus supposed to let the other get stabbed in the neck????? It wasn’t because of race, it was to save two girls life. If you would like to hear what its like to be white female cop in DC — I would love to write a story for your blog. Give you my view and what I did. I went into another type of law enforcement field and no long an officer, but I would to share my point of view from when I was. Chauvin got what he deserved, he was one of the bad ones – 17 complaints too many.

    • Kat Rosa says...

      The cop killed her within 10 seconds of arriving at the scene. Zero attempts at descalation. Cops arrest white mass shooters alive all the time. Why couldn’t they arrest the teenage girl alive?

      And you know what they say about bad apples? They spoil the entire batch.

    • Vero says...

      Why couldn’t he even say “put the knife down or I’ll have to shoot you”? Why no warning? Why didn’t he announce himself as an officer with a firearm? Even if he HAD to shoot her to stop the stabbing, why did he shoot her four times? Why didn’t he shoot her in the food or leg so she wouldn’t die? Why didn’t he try to de-escalate AT ALL? Why didn’t he use a taser? Why are social workers, crisis counsellors, hostage negotiators, nurses and many other professionals able to deal with similar situations without murdering anybody? Why are police officers able to consistently apprehend white perpetrators of mass murder and apparently can’t handle a 15 year old girl? Did he have to shoot her? Also.. people survive stabbings. He took a guaranteed death (hers) over a possible death (the other girl’s). These are questions I would truly love to know answers too. This just doesn’t seem defensible.

    • Anne Elliot says...

      “Also.. people survive stabbings. He took a guaranteed death (hers) over a possible death (the other girl’s).” Comments like this make my blood run cold. Is that really what we expect of our police officers, and within 10 seconds of arriving on scene, no less? That they would have the ability to do some complicated risk analysis to evaluate the likelihood of an innocent victim dying by being stabbed versus the likelihood of an attacker dying by being shot, and then elect how to act? How come the officer then couldn’t take into account how big the knife was, or the area in the body the girl was likely to be stabbed — are we looking at a deadly stabbing, or more of a light stabbing, the kind of stabbing you could walk off? Surely in 10 seconds the officer could figure all that out, right?

      What amazes me is how people give police officers zero credit for having moral compass, professionalism, or adequate training, and yet expect them to exercise super-human abilities in terms of making the exact right call in every situation under the most stressful and chaotic circumstances. We simultaneously given them too little credit and far too much. There is no question that the death of this girl is a tragedy, but that does not change the fact that if you are attempting to STAB someone with a KNIFE the police are very likely going to shoot you to prevent you from murdering someone else. And if you were the person on the business-end of that knife, that’s exactly what you would demand that they do.

    • Vero says...

      To Anne Elliot:

      I’m not advocating that he should have let the other girl be stabbed, let that be clear. Both of those lives are equally important, as is a police officer’s life. All human life is equal and sacred.

      Also not expecting that a police officer will make an exact perfect call every single time. But when the numbers go something like 100,000+ people killed by police and less than 10 convicted of murder, it’s just not right. Qualified immunity means police get to act now and think about it later, with impunity most of the time.

      I would reiterate something in my original comment: how are so many other people in different professions able to encounter similar scenarios (I’m thinking of people who deal with high risk teens and regularly have to intervene in conflict involving weapons) without the person who is intervening killing someone on a regular basis? It feels like the adage “when the tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. Perhaps being armed leads police to more quickly used deadly force?

      It’s very hard to imagine if this girl was a 15 year old wealthy white girl instead of a Black child in the foster system that the cop could have come in and shot + killed her within 10 seconds. Yet the story is there again and again and again where Black people consistently are experiencing these outcomes.

      Also YES, this is what we are expecting from our officers. That they can go into a stressful situation without doing more harm. If the people who are choosing to be officers aren’t able to willing to do that before they start making decisions that are PERMANENT and traumatizing, we should start staffing those occupations with people who are willing to do that.

      It’s also a huge red flag to me that more police officers aren’t BEGGING for reform. They’re being traumatized too, having to kill other human beings and witness other officers killing human beings in ways that are unnecessary and tragic. That’s just a whole other kind of trauma.

  10. marie says...

    <3

  11. Grace says...

    I do believe it is worth mentioning that the shooting in Ohio was an african amerian girl, but she was also attempting to stab another african american girl. Crime is real. No matter what, one african amerian girl would have been seriously injured in that situation. The police officer did what was necessary to keep an innocent civilian safe.

    • Naseem says...

      Hey Grace,
      White mass shooters who are heavily armed and who have killed people are arrested alive.

      She could have been arrested alive.

      That’s all (not really, but for now, that’s all).

    • w says...

      Grace you are correct. to the other commenter white mass shooters end up killing themselves. There was nothing else that office could do. you can’t taser someone getting ready to stab someone. Enough about race on this one. Officer saved 2 african american lives.

    • Laura says...

      W- “you can’t taser someone getting ready to stab someone. ” What?! Yes, you can. That’s the whole point of non-lethal deescalation.

  12. Emily says...

    Thank you for this post. I’ve contacted both my senators here in Ohio.

  13. K says...

    I have so many thoughts on this that have been brewing for awhile…

    It is not clear to me that we are trying to solve the same problem even though it affects ALL of us.

    I really appreciate your good intentions, Cup of Jo. I know you want everyone to be happy and to be included. I know the good side where so many people feel seen (me included!) by you acknowledging holidays, food, feature minorities in your content to show that we all love beauty and fashion and yet have some deeper wisdom etc. I want to tell you though that there is the other side of it where you can go too far and think that any POC is seen as good and any complaint is seen as valid, and any white person is inherently bad and they have to work against their inherent badness. Encouraging a simplified view of race has been proven time and time again not to help things.

    Jumping to donate and pass bills which not enough of us it seem to fully understand does not seem to help. You know what we are in charge of? Our neighborhood. Our social circle. Smiling and saying thank you to everyone in our town. I’ve had crappy interactions with the police. But don’t call to defund the police in a town you don’t even live in. I rely on the police, my family relies on the police to step in during violent crimes in this poor neighborhood. It does nothing for any of us to shame the cops as if they’re simply cartoon characters. I agree that the problem to provide support so that people don’t feel the urge to turn to crime is a bigger overarching problem, but don’t call to defund/abolish the police and leave us with no safety net when we’re not anywhere near world peace.

    Emotional reasoning is not the answer, as easy as it is to say we are tired, angry. And on the other side, to give into it out of guilt is unhelpful also.

    I noticed on Instagram that the last couple days people were playing around with words like accountability and then soon after criticizing the use of it. Which means nothing when we never even agreed on the definition in this context in the first place.

    To paraphrase Kmele Foster, it really seems like white supremacy is becoming the the bogeyman that harms all of us. It harms white people. I have had many white people be racist to me, I also have white friends. I follow Cup of Jo which is a blog started by a white woman whom I see as doing noble and great work. They are individuals. I have non-white friends, I also have had many non-white people be racist to me. Many Black people disagree with the BLM movement in its current iteration. Are people going to call them Uncle Toms? Isn’t that racist also to suggest that the are not in charge of their own thought? What happens when you come across a black cop that loves their job? Is it still ACAB? Asians were called white adjacent for seeming to more easily blend into the mainstream world, and thus the racism they felt was deemed less serious. Then the elder attacks (and much more) became more common. How did creating a hierarchy of racism help in that case? It didn’t. And then the elder attacks weren’t given nearly as much airtime because the elephant in the room was that they were committed oftentimes by non-whites. How did that help? What are you trying to protect by ignoring that part of the truth? Is it working? Isn’t THAT infantilizing? Are Jewish people white? Does that define all of their identity and success and privilege? How do you explain the Holocaust then, or attacks on synagogues? What about white women? Isn’t it sexist to just call them “Karens” even when you simply disagree with them? Are they not still women, liable to be physically hurt? Can’t all of us be both oppressors and oppressed? The “system” cannot always be the scapegoat.

    Why would anyone call words of affirmation to a cop helping you, “infantilizing praise” instead of gratitude? Why did we thank healthcare workers every day at 7.00 PM for “just doing their jobs?” How does that line of thinking make the world a more peaceful, open, softer place?

    White shooters are selectively remembered for being apprehended alive. How about all the others that weren’t? The Colorado supermarket shooter turned out to be a Syrian Muslim when beforehand so many people jumped in that they were SO SURE he was a white shooter. (I can tell you me and my Muslim family members groaned “oh crap” when that came out). Then he was called white-passing. Why are people holding so hard to this narrative that ONLY white people are bad, even the good ones that are trying to be allies? What does that solve?

    Racism exists. This doesn’t mean though that EVERYTHING is a result of racism.

    Let’s work backwards from what we’re trying to solve. For example, less Black deaths by the police. Police need more training yes, but it takes two to tango. What about the victims. What was the context with Ma’Khia Bryant, for example? She was at a foster home, she was a disadvantaged youth in a poor community. She needs a stable family environment, which is a solution that takes a long time to implement, which is a problem brewing long before the police arrive. George Floyd. He was wrongfully murdered. Had he not been killed what is the likelihood he would be playing with his 6 year old daughter that lives states away when he barely saw her beforehand? An absent dad is an absent dad regardless of race. Saying “so what” to his crimes rather than acknowledging that they had an influence in him becoming the person that he became does not help anyone, not even George, not even his family. If we don’t acknowledge the whole problem we cannot solve the problem. We have to agree on what the problem points are. How do we solve these problems without simply blaming white supremacy and leaving it at that? What is your empirical evidence that the solutions you support, work? What if the taser didn’t work on Ma’Khia? There’s so many times that tasers don’t work. What if you only had the choice between saving the girl being lunged at or the girl holding the knife? If that’s a false dichotomy to you, what would YOU do in that very split second? It’s not perfect, but that was the situation that was.

    Why do I bother with all of this in a comment section? Because I genuinely think the race hypotheses being perpetuated right now is inaccurate and harms all of us, even the ones it claims to save, even when a lot of the messengers have good intentions.

    • S says...

      Amen.

    • A says...

      Thank you for this extremely necessary, intelligent, and well thought out comment.

    • Ameya says...

      Wow, K, I’m close to tears reading this. You’ve perfectly articulated what I’ve been feeling. This movement is so divisive and so counterproductive to the very people it claims to help (like me!) in so many ways. I’m scared to speak up publicly against it because I’ll be dismissed and ostracized as a race traitor, or as racist myself (just as we’re seeing people called racist on this blog post for suggesting we could thank police officers). I am so grateful to you for taking the time to compose these really well articulated objections to this ideology.

      K, I wish I could meet you in real life! I’ve been feeling so lonely – I can’t stand by a movement that bases everything on race and doesn’t allow you to question any of the ideology (which seems to be what the left is turning into), but I can’t turn to find a home on the right. It’s a scary, divisive time.

    • Athena says...

      K, thank you so much. If only more people had the humility and wisdom to ask the questions you’ve asked rather than pretending to know the answers, we could actually have a chance at finding solutions to these problems and creating peace.

    • Em says...

      Thank you for this, K. You’ve captured so much of what I’ve felt over the last decade, with increasing frustration. “You know what we are in charge of? Our neighborhood. Our social circle. Smiling and saying thank you to everyone in our town.” This, 100%. I agree that encouraging a simplified view of race has not been as helpful as we would hope. On top of that, the Smith-Mundt Act (2012) has skewed media and education, allowing for propaganda on US soil. We’re being misled by organizations we trust, whether intentionally so or just for the clicks.

      A decade ago, a group of friends decided to take action… I’ve run for low-level political positions in my community and three of my friend are now district and state representatives. I volunteer ~200 hours per years with the local community emergency response team and another ~100 teaching underprivileged kids personal finance and gardening. I am fighting to grant low-income families school choice so that they can give their kids the best education, and force lower-performing schools to step up and compete. My only qualification is caring about my neighborhood and making a personal investment in the future of my community. It’s making a difference… not overnight, and not a world-shaking ways, but I can point to individuals who are better off because I cared.

      The media would have us believe that Americans fall into one of two categories: racist or victim of racism. There is so much more nuance to the discussion. We all have our own unique struggles and strengths, regardless of our history and how we identify. At the end of the day, we need to show up to love and empower one another. We all have the opportunity to do more, and that begins with viewing one another through a lens of curiosity, empathy, and willingness to listen.

    • CT says...

      THANK YOU.

    • Jeanne says...

      Thank you for this, A. You’ve perfectly articulated how I feel. Sending a big hug across the web. I hope the more people have the courage to speak up, as you have. <3

    • SR says...

      this comment is really confusing and I’m not really sure what you’re trying to say?

      That being said, it’s important to clarify something you brought up. Judaism is not a race, it’s a religion. Jewish people are of many different races. In the same way that Muslims can be Black, white, Asian, etc., there are Black Jews, Asain Jews, white Jews, and so on. Jews of color are often erased! What about the holocaust? you ask. That was religious and ethnic persecution, but not racial. Not all Jews are Ashkenazi or Sephardic, these are ethnic groups that are part of a religion, but they do not solely represent the Jewish diaspora.

    • CM says...

      K, I’ve read this three times already.
      And then read it to my husband. What a perfectly articulated statement. We feel this way but are so afraid by speaking the truth. Thank you for being so honest.

    • Hope says...

      Thank you K. Thank you for taking the time to articulate so intelligently what has been making my heart ache.

    • E says...

      Thank you for this thoughtful comment that addresses so many things I’ve been thinking about…and also the deeper issues at hand.
      Thank you also, Joanna, for allowing this space, and exchange of ideas, to exist.

    • Maci says...

      Thank you so very much for your voice!! I have stopped following all the blogs I used to love because they so blindly copy paste what news outlets say. Why are people not
      interested in truth anymore, but in an agenda? Facts are being portrayed one sidedly or completely left out. Thank you again! Really appreciate your wise words!!

    • Susan says...

      K, thanks for your thoughtful comments. I agree with you.

    • M says...

      Amen! Thank you for sharing this.

    • Jackie says...

      There is a difference between morals and manners.

      Some white people may use a derogatory term towards a black person. Maybe because they don’t know better. That’s bad manners.

      But if said person of color was in a car that was on fire and the white person saves them. That’s good morals.

      You can have bad manners but still be a good person.

      Be careful of making these victims martyrs. That’s the media using them for profit. Click bait. Watch where you get your information from. There are not only two sides to every story. There are MULTIPLE.

    • Heather says...

      I agree with the commenter who said that they found this confusing and didn’t understand what you were trying to say. I was surprised to see so many people chiming in that they agreed with this. I don’t mean offense, I’m just truly stumped, but perhaps that means that I fundamentally do not agree with this line of thinking, so of course I won’t understand it. Not sure.

      One thing that I can pinpoint that does not sit well with me is your devil’s advocate “what if” questions. I do not think they serve discussions of race well. And you are saying that things today are overly black and white (so to speak), but your devil’s advocate positing of – either a girl was getting stabbed or getting shot – is overly simplified as well.

      I also think this portion of your comment is incredibly dangerous and inappropriate:

      George Floyd. He was wrongfully murdered. Had he not been killed what is the likelihood he would be playing with his 6 year old daughter that lives states away when he barely saw her beforehand? An absent dad is an absent dad regardless of race. Saying “so what” to his crimes rather than acknowledging that they had an influence in him becoming the person that he became does not help anyone, not even George, not even his family. If we don’t acknowledge the whole problem we cannot solve the problem.

      Again the hypotheticals that you are positing are distractionary and irrelevant. To even vaguely suggest that ‘the man he became’ led him on a path to this police encounter and his death puts the blame on him and not the cop. Even if someone is a serial murderer, no cop interaction should be a death sentence.

    • Stella says...

      I agree Heather! All the “what if?” questions don’t really seem to have a point or serve an argument.
      And what she was saying about George Floyd didn’t sit right with me either. Being an “absent dad” isn’t a crime and also isn’t a justification for his murder. And his “crimes” having “an influence in him becoming the person that he became”… umm again, the suggestion here is that he somehow deserved what happened to him? Stop. People don’t have to be perfect to be alive.

    • S says...

      Your comment is not only incoherently written, but scarily ignorant and harmful. Can’t begin to unpack it all, but this section in particular turned my stomach: “ George Floyd. He was wrongfully murdered. Had he not been killed what is the likelihood he would be playing with his 6 year old daughter that lives states away when he barely saw her beforehand? An absent dad is an absent dad regardless of race. Saying “so what” to his crimes rather than acknowledging that they had an influence in him becoming the person that he became does not help anyone” You can’t be serious. You can’t seriously believe that this racist characterization should be used to justify a murder. NO POLICE INTERACTION SHOULD END IN DEATH. You ask for the data… it’s all there in spades. Don’t wait for black people to serve it to you on a platter. Shame.

    • NM says...

      Thank you for taking the time to share this comment. I was born in Israel and moved to the US as a young girl. Coming from that place— of insane complexity, pain, with no simple answers— has given me a deep respect for nuanced perspectives— one that often isn’t shared. People are so eager to pinpoint who is bad who is good. Who is wrong who is right. And then come up with a solution based on that oversimplification— which doesn’t really center the people facing the problem. It is a human instinct to create a narrative. It is how we understand our own life and the world around us. But most societal narratives require extensive research, learning, negotiating, and time. That isn’t to say we should rest on inaction. Often a multitude of actions is necessary. It is also important to talk about the topic with more nuance and less slogans. Unfortunately slogans are how political races are won, they are how (important) protests form, they are a single call to action that multitudes can stand behind, single file. I am not sure what the solution is. We live in a society if millions and billions. How can we all find nuance? I’m not sure. But thank you for opening a complex discussion.

    • Aja says...

      I find this comment confusing too. There’s a lot of things that don’t make sense and a lot of analogies that simply don’t work. There’s no acronym like ACAB for healthcare workers so claiming that we should thank them all the same is frankly a bit much. I’ll stand by MY comment about NOT infantalizing the police. To thank someone who MY tax dollars pay for … for not being hostile towards the people they’re supposed to “serve and protect” is to infantalize someone in a job they supposedly trained for. And no I’m indifferent to the cops skin color. Black or white, I’m not handing out cookies because the “good” cops are NOT doing enough to oust the bad ones which means the system is pretty rotten.

      There’s several credible sources that make the argument that more police officer presents in neighborhoods DOES NOT lead to less crime. If you can’t apprehend a 16 year old safely than it’s probably time to look at why that is. You ask for empirical evidence but your comment provides very little of that.

    • NM says...

      @SR adding more nuance to your Holocaust comment. Germans DID view Jews as a race. So even if you were a practicing Catholic, for example, if you were born to a Jewish family, or even descendant of Jewish grandparents, you were murdered. In the US, Jews who were barred from swimming pools, universities, etc— it wasn’t because they were religious. They were seen to be a different race. Just want to throw that in there. It’s a recent development (and a US centric one at that) to view Jews as a religious choice and not a race.

    • Eva says...

      1.0.0.%
      I’m so glad you took the time to write all this. I feel very much the same way.

      “I want to tell you though that there is the other side of it where you can go too far and think that any POC is seen as good and any complaint is seen as valid, and any white person is inherently bad and they have to work against their inherent badness. Encouraging a simplified view of race has been proven time and time again not to help things.”

      How did we get to this point where suddenly every situation is so fragile that you can’t question anything? You have to accept things as pure racism or sexism or *insert other -ism here*. Otherwise you are marked as gaslighting. In my perspective, its too simplistic just to label everything as racist. Situations are complex and nuanced and should be analyzed from all different angles.

    • K says...

      @S, A, Ameya, Athena, Em, CT, Jeanne, CM, Hope, E, Maci, Susan, M, Jackie (? :) ), NM, Eva –Thank you for understanding what I was imperfectly trying to say :) <3. I hope you keep speaking up :). There’s a silent majority that has the same questions. If our line of thinking is true, we may soften the world… Ameya, if you read this, feel free to leave a way to contact you via messaging :)

      @SR, Heather, Stella, S, Aja–

      You’re right, my comment was pretty incoherent in a lot of places, unedited, not fully fleshed out. It makes me even more glad that there were people who understood what I was trying to express. 

 Below I try to reiterate my core ideas. I know I’m not addressing every single aspect of your comments (some of which would lead down a few different threads, like the Judaism comment), but hopefully I clarify further where I’m coming from.

      1. Good faith questions in a discussion should not be considered dangerous. To treat them as fact and act on them without due diligence or cross examination is what may lead to danger. Questions are meant to be explored, not treated as taboo. To treat them as taboo *is* dangerous. That is when you cut off potential paths to truth. If someone says something that doesn’t sit well with you, ask them why they think that way instead of *telling* them what you assume they are saying or thinking. My questions should be cross examined, and your questions should be cross examined too. And back and forth until we hopefully reach a common understanding. For more on this, I highly recommend reading Coddling of the American Mind. 

 And this chart from Chloé Valdary’s Theory of Enchantment: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EfwEw4kUYAYm7fx.jpg


      2. In order to reach a common understanding, we must agree if we’re trying to solve the same problem(s). In order to agree we’re trying to solve the same problem(s), we must be having the same conversation. In order to have the same conversation, we must be speaking the same language, where we agree upon the definitions of the words we are using.

      

“…Before jumping to a fix, it helps to align on what's broken. Even if you don't find a solution, you've sharpened your ability to build consensus around diagnosing the problem.”-Adam Grant https://twitter.com/AdamMGrant/status/1381947197240049667



      3. In order to have the same conversation/speak the same language, we need to tap into that same compassion we have when we’re trying to reach a common understanding during a disagreement with a loved one. That our goal is to understand others' POV to solve the problem, not trying to win the argument. That we by default assume we’re on the same team on some level. Thus, it’s really the same idea when talking to strangers about something we are passionate about. Try to manage anger and frustration. Managing those feelings does not mean we should or shouldn’t be angry, or that we are or aren’t angry. It simply is the compassionate and productive way to have a conversation because the people we’re discussing with aren’t necessarily supposed to be on the receiving end of our anger.

      

“Too many people think freedom is the ability to do what you want, instead of the discipline to not be a slave to your compulsions.”- Ayishat Akambi https://twitter.com/feeonline/status/1382685145988206597

5.

      4. Two of the major things that usually contribute to a person’s fate: The hand that they’re dealt and the way they play that hand. The weight of these two things for each individual is up for debate, but neither of the weights is zero. To my point, OF COURSE a person’s actions can contribute to their circumstances and situations. This may be distinct from whether they should or should not, this is about what *did* happen. 

It is also unhelpful to say a person had no control or agency when they did have it. 


      To examine a situation post-mortem properly, we have to look at *all* of the factors. If we do not look at all of the factors, we risk not solving the problem. If we ignore an important contributing factor, we do not solve the problem. This includes the factors the victim themself has contributed. This is different from *deserving* murder, death, and everything else horrible in life.



      Sorry for any typos!

  14. ZRP in VT says...

    Done, from Vermont! Thanks to the commenters for calling out the Breathe Act.

  15. Kia says...

    Hi Joanna, I know you won’t post this but you will read it and can never claim you weren’t told (by a Black mother), so here it goes: YOU ARE HURTING BLACK PEOPLE. When was the last time you took your kids to a playground in a Black neighborhood? A real one, not a fully gentrified one. Don’t tell me…I know the answer: NEVER. BECAUSE YOU WOULD NOT FEEL SAFE. If I am wrong, post this and tell everyone that is so.
    You (and most if not all of your Black readers) DO NOT live in a Black community like I do. We need police and we need police to act when our children, elderly, and other innocent victims are attacked. Every single day people are victimized in our community and you are causing police to do nothing and officials to pull them out of our streets. Even Tyler Perry told Anderson Cooper that Black communities need “more police.”
    My community officers are some of the most decent people I’ve ever met and have come to our rescue to make our block safer. You are going to make them quit! PLEASE STOP.
    If your white guilt doesn’t lead you to anything helpful to us (so far that’s a NO) then stay out of our lives.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Thank you so much for leaving this comment, Kia. I’m always trying to listen and learn, and I really appreciate your honest feedback. I’ve been following the lead of Black activists online and in real life, and I’m now and always trying to figure out the best way to use this platform to support others. Thank you again for sharing your important point of view.

      One thing I don’t understand is how what’s discussed in this post would cause decent police officers to do nothing or quit (which you express concern about in your comment). The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act strives to do four things: “make the prosecution of police misconduct easier, expand federal oversight into local police units, limit bias among officers, and change policing tactics.” This bill is trying to make the police system more decent, more effective, more accountable and safer for everyone. Also, I very much support increasing funding for other types of support for communities — including social services, youth services, housing, education, healthcare and other community resources. I hope this makes sense! Thank you so much, as always.

    • Marisa says...

      Hi Kia- this is such an eye opening comment. Can you tell us more, please?

    • Athena says...

      Thank you, Kia, for your honest comment. Your points ring loud and clear to me, especially as someone who has lived in majority black neighborhoods of DC for years. I left a similar comment but it was not published, and I think we can tell there’s a lot of censorship by the obvious slant in this comment section.
      A lot of damage can be done by a ‘virtuous mob’, which is what this movement has become. As they say, the path to hell is paved by good intentions. What we need is open discourse and REAL honesty, not a mob of people trying to say exactly the right thing so they can be admitted to the woke club.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Thanks, Athena! Your comment was actually approved, you can find it below. I appreciate hearing from everyone and have been following the lead of Black activists in this case. It’s an incredibly complicated issue, and I appreciate all commenters’ points of view.

    • Jess says...

      Kia, your comment made me think about a story my dad would tell. He was a cop in the South Bronx from 1981-2001 and witnessed the literal “Bronx burning.” When he and his partner would work overnights, they’d park their squad car so they could watch for what they called “the 5am crowd.” At around 5am, lights would start turning on in apartment buildings and people who worked early hours jobs (janitors, shop owners, teachers, etc.) would start leaving their homes while it was still dark. He and his partner would sit watch to make sure these people were safe and not attacked by anyone looking for an easy mark before the sun came out and the streets were still quiet.

      The story in anecdotal, for sure, but does speak to the fact that police in black communities do understand where they fit in, and do want to protect the people who live there.

      There is so much room for improvement, and I’ll be the first to admit I have a difficult time reconciling my dad’s former occupation and the stories he tells with what we’re seeing and experiencing in the mainstream in 2021. The kind of policing he did in the 80s certainly does not translate well to present day.

      But I also acknowledge that I cannot begin to understand the horrors he saw- things that still give him nightmares to this day. And these are horrors that the people in the South Bronx also lived with and witnessed every day. I think it’s easy for those of us living cushy lives in the suburbs to forget that real people live in real situations we can’t wrap our minds around, and we don’t necessarily know what’s best.

      Thank you for drawing attention to that.

    • S says...

      Thank you for this amazing comment, Kia. I hope Joanna and other white people will come to realize that “black activists” on Instagram do not speak for all black people.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Oh, yes, S, I would never think that Black activists speak for all Black people — and at the same time Black commenters don’t speak for all Black people. I think it’s important for everyone to research, listen, learn and come to conclusions that make sense to them. In this case, I am agreeing with, supporting and following the lead of Black activists I trust both online and in real life.

      Also, I think it’s important to make sure readers clearly read and see what I was saying in my post. Kia is saying that she wants police support to continue in her community; that doesn’t conflict at all with anything written in my post. I hope that makes sense, and please feel free to ask any other questions. Thank you so much.

    • CM says...

      Thank you Kia for this comment. I would love to hear more, from your perspective.

    • S says...

      Joanna, you don’t have to post this but can if you like. Thanks for your response. I agree that your post calling for responsible policing does not directly contradict what Kia is saying. But continuously portraying cops as the enemy of the black community is what leads to calls of defunding & abolishing police, which as Kia explains, would not be constructive in many communities. I do sometimes wish this blog could be more balanced, but it’s your site and you are entitled to profess your own opinions on it. Also, it is easy to conflate the overall mood of the comments section with Cup of Jo as a whole. The way readers jumped on that commenter below who dared to say we should thank responsible police officers was particularly concerning. But I get it, this is not an easy issue. Thanks for not censoring the comments.

    • Liz says...

      Hi all,
      Thanks for these posts. Under policing in Black and other neighborhoods of color is a real problem that leaves people, especially women, vulnerable to crime. Yet, I don’t think that this is an either-or problem—that it’s either police presence or absence that will lead to safety. I am especially inspired by the work of Black abolitionist Ruth Wilson Gilmore, who has been working for decades doing grassroots activism (and publishing groundbreaking scholarship) on abolition. For her, and for other abolitionists, the abolition of prison and police are not about absence but about presence: the presence of institutions, structures, and communities that would, in the words of Angela Davis (another abolitionist), make prisons/police “obsolete.” To intervene in how these discussions often go on spaces like Cup of Jo (which I am so happy opens a forum to discuss these issues!!), abolitionists also emphasize non-state solutions to state and non-state violence. I think that we’re all backed into a corner if the police appear as the only viable solution to violence and harm in our communities, and decades of work by abolitionists—who were around way before social media—demonstrate creative and life-affirming (rather than death-dealing) alternatives to prison and police.

      Some links on abolition
      New York Times article on Gilmore: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/2019/04/17/magazine/prison-abolition-ruth-wilson-gilmore.amp.html
      Barnard collection of videos on restorative https://bcrw.barnard.edu/videos/introduction-to-restorative-justice/
      Mariame Kaba on abolition: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/2020/06/12/opinion/sunday/floyd-abolish-defund-police.amp.html

    • Vero says...

      I appreciate this comment. I also have a hard time because I don’t think any single person who is an abolitionist is saying all cops should be pulled from all neighbourhoods and nothing should be introduced in its place. Every activist and person I’ve read about is advocating for much of the funding to be put other places that would offer protection and opportunity for Black people in Black neighbourhoods. I’m thinking specifically about what Sonya Renee Taylor speaks of.

    • shannon says...

      Hi Kia, here to say I also live in a real/nongentrified Black neighborhood. Thank you for your perspective; you are not alone.

    • S says...

      Vero, I do not understand. If you don’t actually call for the abolition of police, then why do you use the term “abolitionist.” Is it simply that it sounds cool?

      That aside, with shootings happening on a near daily basis and violent crime at record levels, the idea that we live in a world peaceful enough to live without police is preposterous to many many people and will only get Trump elected again in 2024 if people on the left keep promoting this idea.

      And with regards to prison abolition (assuming that’s something you also support), are you really saying that Derek Chauvin should not be serving time in prison for murdering GF?

    • Vero says...

      S:
      There is a spectrum of how people want to deal with the completely dysfunctional entity that is policing. Some want reform from within policing, some believe it needs to be external, some believe we should “defund” the police by taking some of the funding and putting it to other initiatives and some full on believe in defunding and abolishing the police.

      For the last two, nobody is suggesting that we put nothing in its place for these communities. I haven’t heard of a single abolitionist who believes you can pull police from communities and give them NOTHING to protect themselves. Many purport that these communities know best what is necessary for their survival, protection and thriving, and that they should get a say on how this funding is used, because they have LIVED experience of that reality. This would be a collective effort, not a top-down, not one person deciding. Coming together, identifying what the issues are and using their radical liberatory imagination to come up with ideas we maybe haven’t even SEEN or haven’t even existed ever before.

      I don’t live in a Black neighbourhood. I absolutely believe and trust that there are SERIOUS issues where the police are able to offer something for people who live in these neighbourhoods and communities. I don’t think every single thing policing has ever done is bad or is harmful. And I absolutely believe good, true hearted people become officers out a lover for their community. However, interspersed with that is SO much trauma, state-sanctioned violence, murder, corrupt cops, intimidation, etc. I trust people in Black communities when they say they have been traumatized by policing and that they don’t feel safe calling police. Of course that will not be EVERY person’s experience. We can’t ask for a universal experience because there isn’t one.

      I would highly recommended anybody who feels conflicted about abolition, who feels that calling out police violence is “divisive” etc look at Sonya Renee Taylor’s instagram @sonyareneetaylor She has so many videos going into this complicated issue and engages with challenging perspectives in the comments as well. It’s helped me with wrapping my head around this.

    • Black person to Black person, you make a lot of strong statements which a lot of Black people like myself patently disagree with. But you state them in absolutes which is frankly unfair. WE (includes all of us) do not all believe that police keep us safe and we need police in our neighborhoods. I’m glad you like your community officers … but that’s you. And your opinion. And like I could write a dissertation on this but Tyler Perry will never speak for me. So he’s a pretty bad example and a divisive character in Black culture. Just like you’ve stated, we’re not all a monolith but stating absolutes here about what Black people need is problematic.

    • Jas says...

      KIa, this is the best, most genuine comment that describes the whole situation regarding calls for defunding the police and anyone with common sense thinks exactly the same, you are not alone in your thoughts! The media and social networks are giving us false picture and make the real voices of real people facing the reality of living in unsafe neighborhoods impossible to hear. A lot of money is behind suppression of the voices like yours all in the name of the political agenda and all the virtue signaling without any real knowledge about the real life in real black neighborhoods is just painful to watch. I am not American, I am from Europe and it seems strange to us when rich, white Americans are calling for defunding the police while living in the neighborhoods that have private security. It is also strange to us that anyone would say that the officer should let the girl with the knife kill other girl. I live in a country that is almost all white and the action of the police has nothing to do with color – here, a police officer would react the same even though girls would be white.

    • Kiki says...

      Yes. Yes. and Yes!!!
      If people want to learn more about this perspective, “Candace Owens” is a great leader and voice to hear from!!! Read her brilliant book “Black Out” and listen to her podcast.

  16. Contacted! I’m thrilled to be in community with others working to make our country a better place for all of us. Black lives matter!

  17. Thank you for this post Joanna and for always valuing the diversity of your audience. I’m African-American and my feelings have been all over the place. My mom was the one who told me about the verdict and I was shocked and then felt numb. Then just sad. Because George Floyd is still dead. Then a flood of overwhelming sadness. He’s still dead. No matter what, he’s still dead.

    • Angela says...

      I had read the comments of Black co-workers that same day saying that they were scared to be Black and drive, to go to work Black, etc. That was my comment to my husband as were watching the verdict. “But Black people are still scared to exist in the world. That isn’t going away today.” It’s got to be the beginning of something.

  18. Jennifer says...

    Done! Thank you for putting forth the contact information and making this the easiest and most important thing to do today.

  19. Maya says...

    Thank you for not shying away from this important topic! Would love hear about some age-appropriate ways to talk to kids -small and big- to talk about systemic racism in this country.

    • Nicole says...

      Hi Maya! This is a video I have shown to my students and my own children about systemic racism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrHIQIO_bdQ. Of course, it just scratches the surface of a much bigger conversation, but it’s a great starting point for that dialogue with kids.

  20. Mika says...

    Thank you so much for this post and for everyone posting more information and resources!

  21. Meg says...

    Posting news. Important news. Big news. On CoJ does not go unnoticed.
    Thank you. Maybe your audience is not generally looking for anything other than light hearted trends but by not glossing over MAJOR events, and not being afraid of letting your beliefs be known is huge. Goodness, one would never know there was voter suppression, a BLM movement, police brutality , mass shootings, or even a global pandemic by looking at a blog from UT or anywhere south of the Mason Dixon line. (It’s all vacations, decor & hair tips). Thank you for waking us up!!!

    I think I’ll remember always where I was when I heard the verdict on npr.
    I was in my car and told my teen son to stay home because the verdict would be announced momentarily. When I heard the good news I was so thankful. I am hopeful that things will begin to change albeit slowly. Please! We need change!

    Now let’s all watch “exterminate all the brutes” and discuss.

  22. Stephanie Laureano says...

    THANK U JOANNA!!… I appreciate your voice and don’t mind being heard even if some people do not agree with everything that is going on in this world. For they fear what their family or friends are going to think if they speak out. You don’t, you see injustice and run with it and this is coming from someone who is black and hispanic!

  23. Stephanie says...

    As always, thank you COJ for using your platform to clearly and compassionately draw attention to important issues. I’m proud to be a small part of your corner of the internet.

  24. Vero says...

    Can there also be a movement to make it IMPOSSIBLE for police officers to turn off their own body cameras? No officer should have that capability. How can there be transparency when they get to decide which parts of the event are preserved and which aren’t?

    • M says...

      This is so important.

    • Anon says...

      Hmmm… not sure about this. Would you like to be forced to wear a camera at work that recorded EVERYTHING you did? EVEN your bathroom breaks?? That crosses a line.

  25. Charlie says...

    AMEN.

    Also: Let’s talk about what “Defund the Police” really means.

    I think it gets a lot of pushback because the tag phrase is misleading and misunderstood. Can CofJ help explain it to readers? And have a discussion on what our neighborhoods might look like if we re-invested funding that’s currently used for guns, tanks, and military equipment into the most necessary services our communities need? Mental health support, school counselors, housing support, dispute interventions and mediation, etc.

    If health care workers, mental health experts, and other community resources were responding to incidents that require them, instead of poorly trained police who have a very different set of tools, a lot of community members would be supported and served with our city resources, rather than murdered or jailed.

    • mj says...

      Yes! I agree. The phrase “Defund the Police” is misleading. We need to educate people on it’s meaning and find a new phrase altogether. Our local police do no need to armed like a militia. They are here to serve local communities made of friends and neighbors.

    • Midge says...

      I read something recently (I can’t find it) that pointed out that we know what defunding looks like since we’ve been defunding education for years. Kids are still being educated. There are many nuances of course, but I thought that was a helpful lens.

  26. KELLY STONE says...

    In an email I received today from my New Mexico US Senator, Martin Henrich….
    “Earlier this month, New Mexico took an important step forward by enacting important reforms in our criminal justice system. It’s time to take up similar reforms on the national level, beginning with the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
    Black lives matter. I am grateful those words rang true in Minneapolis yesterday, and I will continue to fight until they ring true all across this country.”
    I feel grateful to have my two democratic senators Martin Henrich and Ben Ray Lujan speaking to the country on my behalf.

  27. Saba says...

    Thank you for this, and thank you for sharing actions. Thank you to the CoJ community for alerting us to other bills. I would also love to invite readers to join the work at Grassroots Law Project (https://www.grassrootslaw.org/). I have been volunteering with them since last summer, and I cannot say enough great things about their grassroots organizing. I am in Texas (https://www.grassrootslaw.org/texas), and for any fellow Texans, I would also recommend getting plugged into Texas Organizing Project (https://organizetexas.org/campaigns/right2justice/).

  28. Karyn says...

    Done! Also, my local chapter of SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) shared this 3:49 video made by writer and organizer Mariame Kaba and Project Nia about what it means to ‘Defund Police’ (youtube link). Could help shift the way some people think about this widely misunderstood movement!

  29. Rachael says...

    Done!!

  30. constancesuze says...

    The George Floyd Act pushes reforms that would not even have saved George Floyd’s life. America’s black community needs so much more than this, and police departments should not be given more money and more training after murdering black people. The officer who murdered Daunte Wright was training the other officer who was with her. Giving departments more money isn’t the answer. Defund the police.

    • E says...

      Yep. I love love love that Cup of Jo takes a serious interest in human rights in the US and that they take a stand against police brutality. But from what I see, the only answer is full abolition. I hope that idea becomes more mainstream in the future.

    • Claire says...

      completely agree with you!

    • Vero says...

      AMEN. I’m not interested in seeing policing as an institution reluctantly reform itself. It’s time for a radical, liberatory imagining of what could could exist instead. I do believe primarily Black men and women, queer people, BIPOC, trans people, disabled people, etc are in the best position to imagine the change + lead the change, as they are the most affected and the mostly likely to even be able to comprehend a revolutionary, joy-filled and safe alternative to the current way of living.

  31. Thank you for this post and comments! I called my senators and voiced support for the Justice in Policing Act––then, after reading the comments I called back and asked them to support the BREATHE Act instead. I agree with the previous comments that the BREATHE Act proposes larger reforms and creates real accountability.

    Here’s an article explaining the BREATHE Act: https://www.vox.com/22263084/breathe-act-revolutionize-policing-pressley-tlaib

    …And another one explaining how it differs from the Justice in Policing Act:
    https://www.npr.org/2021/03/23/980234498/the-breathe-act-is-a-counterproposal-to-justice-in-policing-act

    I’ve been going to Black Lives Matter marches since 2014, and I believe that we need to do all we can to prevent more murders by police. Thanks to those of you who pointed out the differences between the BREATHE Act and the Justice in Policing Act and for making Cup of Jo a place for learning and activism.

    I appreciate this community so much!

  32. Kim says...

    Thank you for this post.

  33. Julia B says...

    I love your blog and this is my first time commenting. I love all of what you have written here but feel compelled to point out that many organizers who are working in this space do not believe that the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would have prevented George Floyd’s death. The bill allocates more money to police forces for reforms that have largely tried and failed. The bill supported by activists is the BREATHE Act. Mpre context here: https://www.npr.org/2021/03/23/980234498/the-breathe-act-is-a-counterproposal-to-justice-in-policing-act

  34. Susan says...

    Thanks for the info on calling senators regarding the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Calling through that number was easy.

  35. Heather Green says...

    Thanks for posting this. Called my Senators. And I appreciate you drawing attention to these key issues.

  36. Caitlin says...

    Calling my Virginia senators today, calling again tomorrow!

  37. Abigail says...

    Done!

  38. EM says...

    I think it likely that if the bill passes, police forces across the country will lose members who aren’t willing to work without immunity, and will find it harder to recruit police officers. That doesn’t mean that the bill is not necessary change. But maybe a campaign to recruit liberal minded progressive people willing to serve as police officers is a part of the solution.

    • Kate says...

      Defund the police means exactly that – in part, shifting funds to mental health and housing supports and re-structuring the police services with a focus on de-escalation and actually serving the community. It would become a role that no longer appeals to racist, violent, misogynists.

    • Denise says...

      I think it’s a positive that those people who aren’t willing to be held accountable for their policing practices may not become police officers. We certainly don’t need people with access to guns & authority to be unwilling to be law abiding themselves.

    • Christa says...

      I agree that this isn’t an “easy fix” thing. The bill sounds good in theory, but if you actually read the bill it requires more cameras for police (hello some politician’s tech company interest) and more “training” and “data collection” (also sure to involve privatized corporations with some tie to government interest) for police. It bothers me that everyone’s touting the smart phone video too–as though politicians were unaware that this was an issue before there was a film (*EYEROLL*). The root of this problem lies in inequity, poverty, and systemic racism all of which are exacerbated by our government/capitalism. The only thing I’m thankful for here is the eyes that have been finally forced open. How about we focus our energy on funding schools and teaching our youth how to think for themselves and gain skills so that they don’t fall into an endless cycle of poverty instead of wasting time calling politicians so that they can pass a feel good/do nothing bill?!?!?

    • Kristy says...

      Hi Em!

      I live in Madison, WI, a city known for being very liberal and progressive. The police department is no exception to that. I know that the police officers in this city are generally liberal, but we still have HUGE racist disparities in policing here, including the murder of Tony Robinson (an unarmed 19-year-old) by Officer Matt Kenny in 2015. Sadly, Kenny faced no consequences and continues to work for the Madison Police Department.

      Don’t you think that police officers who really are progressive would welcome accountability? To me, it seems like immunity protects officers like Matt Kenny and makes it harder for other officers who are not abusing their power, but I’m curious to hear your perspective and other perspectives, as well.

  39. S says...

    Thank you for this post.

  40. Wendela says...

    Thank you for this post!

  41. Amanda H says...

    Just contacted my Senators!
    George Floyd Justice in Policing Act MUST pass.

    xx

  42. Jude says...

    Thank you so much for posting this.

  43. Frances says...

    Thank you! It’s so easy to feel powerless in confronting an issue as big and pervasive as police violence, but we do have POWER! I just called my two senators in Maryland and asked for their support of both the Breathe Act and George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. It was a fantastic feeling after living in DC for 10 years without any real representation. #DCStatehood!

  44. Emily says...

    Called in Chicago! Takes no time at all.
    Thanks to everyone who shared info about the BREATHE Act.

  45. Heather says...

    Thank for you this post, as usual. While I was reading more about the verdict and circumstances last night, I saw that George Floyd’s grandparents (back some greats) actually owned 500 acres of land only to have it stolen from them.

    It was a Washington Post article, but here its mentioned in LA times as well:
    https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2020-06-03/the-many-chapters-marked-by-racism-in-george-floyds-family-history

    It makes you wonder if as a country, we had not allowed that to happen or at some point, had compensated his family for what was stolen, how would that have changed the trajectory of his life? Would he have even been at that location to be murdered?

    Every piece of his families’ history still feels so relevant – its completely connected to what’s happening today still.

    • Rue says...

      Thank you for your comment! I am Jewish and live in the (very Christian) American south. Since moving here in adulthood, I have seen new layers of white Christian culture that we tend to mistake for American culture — or, the two are so closely interconnected that we can’t really distinguish mainstream American culture from white Christian American culture.

      I bring this up because other cultures have different understandings of time and family. In America, people out beyond your grandparents are too abstract, not connected to you really, not people you think about daily or weekly. But that’s not true in all communities globally! In some places you know more about your ancestors, think more about how your daily life is connected to people in your family line, draw meaning from the details of the lives of people who came before you. Maybe if we saw more of those threads of connection between the past and the present, we’d understand more about the scale of violence against Black people, and it would “feel” more urgent to white people, that we have to take action or this violence is what we pass down to future generations.

    • Molly says...

      Heather, that’s an excellent point to bring up. The injustice goes back so far, and is so deep. And Rue, you are right. I am a white (theologically evangelical, but I hate identifying that way b/c of the political baggage) Christian living in the south. I just took a Minority Church History course through a seminary. My prof, who wrote the book “Free At Last? The Gospel in the African-American Experience” calls what you are describing “White Christianity-ism” and it’s a thwarted and un-biblical version of Christianity that has been used to oppress.

      I also think you are right about the family. In the wake of my mom’s recent passing, my sister having mom’s 12th grandchild (and myself being a frustrated artist), I am working on a family tree that goes back 5 generations. I want my kids to see where they come from. My family is amazing. My parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents were and are phenomenal people. But I know I am going to uncover some yuck. I’m guessing I’ll find slave-owners in my lineage. There are probably people in there who believed and did pretty atrocious things. I may uncover it, I may not. But I l look forward to sitting with my kids and telling them, “these ancestors were in Birmingham when Bull Connor opened the hoses on peaceful protestors. I wonder what they thought? Did they do anything? Could they have? This side of your family was in Memphis for the Sanitation Strikes and when MLK, Jr. was shot. Let’s ask them if they remember what it was like to not have their garbage picked up and if their parents told them why.” It started out as a project for my kids to see how amazing their family is and how fortunate they are to have been born into it. But it will have some ugly, and that’s just as important to learn from. It’s sad that our generation doesn’t dig super deep into genealogy. A lot to learn from and also a lot to be proud of.

    • Heather says...

      Rue – that is so spot on! I haven’t ever thought of it that way – how the connection might feel more tangible or alive for some people and cultures. I love how you described it as having a sense of urgency too. I read the book Homegoing this past year and it cemented how every bit of these stories matter and I’ve felt that urgency you mentioned more sense then.

      It follows the descendants of two women from Ghana – one of which is sold in slavery and ends up in the US. From her line alone:
      – her daughter tried to escape slavery and couldn’t, but safely got her child away up North
      – that child then grew up in Baltimore, had a family, but then his wife (who was legally free) is kidnapped while pregnant and sold into slavery
      – her child was arrested after the civil war and forced into labor in a coal mine because he couldn’t pay his bail

      Just thinking about how the last one – not only were years of his life stolen from him, but the whole history of his family as well (his mother killed herself). So when he was arrested, he had no family to ask for help with bail and was forced to work in terrible conditions (this was when I learned about these coal mines in the South) and again, more of his life was stolen from him.

      And I’m sure these stories are incredibly common! It makes it so crystal clear how the wealth gap has been created and why we have transgenerational trauma.

      For your first comment – I actually lived in Nashville for three years (after growing up in Austin) and completely recognize what you’re describing – it felt like one’s Americanness was inextricably linked to their Christianity.

  46. Katherine says...

    Another Minneapolis resident here. We live about a block from George Floyd Square, feeling a flood of emotions today and cannot say how much it means to see this post front and center. Thank you so much for not shying away from the difficult topics and for identifying action items as we move forward.

  47. A says...

    Called in Washington!

  48. Kate says...

    BLACK. LIVES. MATTER.

  49. Florencia says...

    Thank you, Cup of Jo, for the call to action. Called my senator.

  50. Pat says...

    I called my senator to encourage the passing of the George Floyd Policing in Justice Act. I wish this country would do right by black Americans and stop profiting off our pain.

  51. Joanna says...

    The 16 year old was actively trying to stab two people. Please wait for evidence before you jump. Thanks

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I think this Instagram caption from author/speaker Austin Channing Brown is critical to read and understand:
      https://www.instagram.com/p/CN7m8P2h0w6/?igshid=1593gmtdwp5bi

      Here’s what it says:

      Ma’khia was fighting. She likely had a knife in her hand while fighting. Police arrived on the scene and killed her.

      I don’t care about whether or not youve ever been in a fight. I don’t care whether or not you’ve ever held a knife as a weapon.

      I don’t care about whether or not you identify with Ma’khia.

      I care about whether or not I can trust the police to arrive on scene, de-escalate a situation, and not make things more violent.

      I’m not a trained police officer. I’m not a trained public official. But I’ve worked with those who are unhoused, teens living in group homes and college kids. Fights happen. And they are rather frequent, honestly. I was expected to get to the bottom of the situation.

      I am sincerely shocked that the officer asked a couple times “what’s going on here” and that was the extent of taking control of the situation before pulling his gun.

      Who wants to live a world where if teenagers are fighting, the acceptable de-escalation tactic is one of them must die? I don’t.

    • AL says...

      What point are you trying to make other than the racist one you’ve posted? This comment either implies that cops get to be judge, jury, and executioner (they aren’t and don’t get to be, it’s certainly not what my tax dollars pay for) OR you are admitting that cops are incompetent and racist (because why can they de-escalate school/move theater/concert/church mass shooters who are often *WHITE MEN* but not do the same with a *TEENAGED BLACK GIRL* who has a knife? You’re also admitting your own lack of imagination— I mean, can you truly imagine no other way for a cop to handle a teenaged girl with a knife? Like, no other possible way? You pretending this is Ok is the equivalent of you getting shot for jaywalking and everyone saying, “well, she did something wrong in that moment and so death was the only reasonable solution.” Give me a break and spare us all your nonsense. If you’re problematic, just say so and leave the rest of us alone as we try to dismantle the systems you are desperately trying to uphold.

    • SR says...

      are you seriously defending the murder of a child? this is never ok

    • Claire says...

      But guilty people still shouldn’t be shot – are you seriously saying that the police officer could not have handled a teenage girl without killing her?

    • c. says...

      Joanna : mind your own jumping. AND ASK BETTER QUESTIONS.

      (not directed at Joanna G.)

    • Alison says...

      Think about this way. If that 16 year old had been white, the police would have perhaps reasoned with her, or tasered her. But instead, the police did what we have witnessed they do over and over and over with black men, women and children. They used their guns and killed her. What we have is a system that doesn’t work for black or brown people. We need to change that.

    • J. says...

      Thank you for voicing this. I posted a comment that also made this point and it wasn’t published.

    • Kate says...

      Just remember the police somehow managed to capture Dylann Roof safe and alive and took him to Burger King! If they can do that with white male adult mass murderers, they can find away to de-escalate a fight among teenagers without killing anyone.

    • Kim says...

      Respectfully…
      The situation where an officer arrives on the scene to find one person holding a lethal weapon, actively trying to harm another (who is unarmed), does require quick action. If it was your child seconds away from being murdered, would you not be thankful for someone taking quick action? Have you ever been in a situation where someone is trying to harm you with a knife? It’s not only lethally dangerous for the victim, but for anyone trying to come to the victim’s aid.

      Can anyone here honestly say that they would have intervened on behalf of the person being threatened with a knife? “I am sincerely shocked that the officer asked a couple times “what’s going on here” and that was the extent of taking control of the situation before pulling his gun.

      Who wants to live a world where if teenagers are fighting, the acceptable de-escalation tactic is one of them must die? I don’t.”

      Fighting with a fist and hair-pulling? Okay, do continue trying to de-escalate. Fighting with a lethal weapon? Different story. Context, people.

    • GF says...

      A police officer, A GROWN MAN, should not need to pull a gun to deescalate a CHILD with a knife. We should not have to explain or argue why it’s not okay to shoot and murder a child

    • Erin says...

      Joanna, to follow your logic to its well, logical end, what you’re proposing here is that every person with a weapon (no matter what they’re doing with it, defending themselves or not), should be killed by police. That’s not how it works and in theory the police’s job is to protect and serve not KILL.

      I’m not even mentioning what other responders have adequately addressed which is that white people with weapons are less likely to get shot in their interactions with police.

      But even taking race out of the equation (which we really shouldn’t right now) I want you to see that what you’re proposing equates weapon in hand = being killed.

    • Jomakeh says...

      This is such an unfortunate situation. If you watch the body cam video, the officers demanded that she drop her weapon, but she did not comply. The officer shot just before the knife made contact with the other girl. I sympathize fully; yet, as someone who was mixed up in the wrong crowds at the age, I am confident that the alternative was two or more stabbing victims. Speaking as a black woman, I think the best solution is to empower the young and underprivileged. A teacher mentored me and helped me build a better future for myself. I admire programs like The “X” for Boys, which are doing the same… giving kids the skills and confidence to *be* and *believe* they are an asset to society, with the practical and social skills to success.

    • Samantha says...

      Police officers are not Judge Dredd. Even if someone does something wrong, we have a court system in which they should be tried.
      Not shot to death on the street.
      She was 16. Did she deserve to have her life cut short? To never graduate from high school? Did her parents deserve to have their child killed?

    • K says...

      What is the evidence that a white female teenager lunging with a knife at two people would have resulted in no harm while the police are present?

    • Amy says...

      Joanna, (the commenter)
      I have to agree with you. The headline is terrible that a 16 year old was killed by police. I was and AM appalled. But…also I just watched the bodycam video. I shuddered when I saw that girl fall to the ground. NO ONE wants a 16 year old dead. No one. I’m a mama. She is someone’s baby.
      But she would have killed the girl in pink. That looked like it was going to be a fatal strike with the knife to me. It happened so fast too. It didn’t look to me like there was enough time for sniper-like skills at hitting the shooters hands instead of her body or for deescalation. Maybe I am wrong, it’s just what it looks like to me.
      This is just awful awful awful. But the girl in pink is alive and I am thankful for that and I bet she and her parents are as well.
      I’m not trying to inflame anything here. I’m just truly shocked. Please let’s not attack others for having a differing opinion. Where are we as a country if we can’t have respect for someone else’s opinion?
      Let’s set the example for the rest of the internet.

    • Samantha says...

      I’d like to echo Kate’s statement above and also add
      The Unabomber was taken into custody unharmed, and he had armed bombs in his cabin.
      James Eagan Holmes (Colorado theater mass shooter/murder) was arrested without harm.
      Nikolas Cruz ( Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter) was arrested without incident.
      “If they can do that with white male adult mass murderers, they can find a way to de-escalate a fight among teenagers without killing anyone.”

    • Kelsi says...

      I’m a teacher and I’ve worked in rough schools where a five year old tried to stab ME. Did I kill her? No. Jesus. Cops are trained professionals who consistently demonstrate escalating, rather than deescalating, situations.
      Don’t justify her death. Cops are not judge, jury, and executioner.

    • Lindsey says...

      Jomakeh, I hear what you are saying. I can’t help but think this is what tasers are for though? She needed to be stopped from stabbing someone, but we have tasers so that someone can be stopped without killing them.

    • Sami says...

      Even if a gun was deemed the appropriate reaction from the police in this situation-
      Did she need to be shot 4 times? Lethally? Would a shot to say, the leg, have ended the immediate altercation and not resulted in the death of a child?

    • Irina says...

      I don’t understand why, when police officers feel that they must use their gun to stop a person, they nearly always use lethal force, firing at a person’s torso, which very frequently results in fatal injuries. Of course, it’s easier to aim at the torso then, say, at the legs. But, police are not trained in target shooting for nothing. They should be obligated to put that learning into practice. A bullet to the leg is very effective at stopping a person but will not kill that person.

    • C. says...

      Hi Joanna, I think you’re missing the point here. Arguing that a 16 child deserves to be murdered by the police because she was holding a knife is saying that you don’t believe that everyone (in this case a child) deserves the right to de-escalation, counseling, help/support, and – if appropriate – the right to council and a fair trail. Instead you believe she deserves to be shot dead? Should we also shoot people dead who show up with a counterfeit $20? Children who are playing with waterguns in the park?

      Using a child’s mistake or anyone’s mistake as an excuse for the police to murder them is equivalent to saying:
      – You don’t believe in the right to a fair trail
      – You don’t believe in innocent until proven guilty
      – You believe someone who makes a mistake or issues a threat deserves to die without any defense
      – You don’t believe in children receiving support and concealing when something is seriously wrong
      – You believe the police have the right to murder citizens on snap judgements moments after arriving on the scene. (I will remind you they don’t make good / fair decisions – that white supremeist shooter was peacefully apprehended by police after he shot multiple innocent people)

    • Kim says...

      Joanna, it would have been nice if the police officer had “waited for evidence before he jumped.”

    • Abigail says...

      I watched the footage. It was terrible, brief, and chaotic. How may it have ended differently if the officer’s first response was to use a taser or other non-lethal force? The first response was to shoot to kill.

    • Anon says...

      We need more preventative programs and services in place to help these troubled criminal individuals, and we need societal changes.

      We also need more training for the police. They are often undertrained, exhausted (understaffed), overworked and stressed. This is a recipe for burnout, ptsd and disaster. They need support to do their job well.

      Police officers are the last line of defence. A lot has gone wrong by the time we arrive at this situation. Simply blaming police officers seems like scapegoating and letting policy makers off the hook. The policy makers need to support progressive programs, and also law enforcement. It is not either-or. Both are needed, and both should be supported.

    • Amy says...

      Everyone should watch the video if they can stomach it. (It’s horrible) Because saying she was holding a knife is not accurate.

      The child was 16, not 5. She was not ‘holding a knife’. She was not trying to use a counterfeit $20 bill. She wasn’t holding a water gun.
      She was trying to murder someone with a weapon. The officer was there for only seconds before she raised her hand up with the knife in it to kill the girl in pink. (watch the video. It was fast and chaotic) There wasn’t time to talk her down.
      I don’t know why the officer didn’t shoot once instead of four times. I don’t know if a taser would have been feasible in this situation. I don’t know if he could have shot her in the leg. I wish something else could have been done. That is for experts and a jury. But it looked to me that the girl in pink was going to be murdered or severely injured and I’m glad she wasn’t.

      George Floyd was killed by an arrogant racist police officer for no reason other than he was black. He wasn’t hurting anyone. This is not the same thing and is harmful to the cause of police reform if it’s lumped in with George Floyd in my opinion.

      This is a very sad case though. We need to take better care of each other. Why was this girl in a group home? Where was her village before life got to this point for her? Was she loved? Did she feel like anyone cared about her? 😔
      I don’t know. It makes me realize I need to be play a bigger part in my community though.

    • Helga says...

      Yet 17 year old Kyle Rittenhouse walked away while carrying a gun after killing two people. They offered him water and let him go home.

    • JJ says...

      Ma’khia wasn’t JUST holding a knife. In any other context, we would call a knife attack an attempted murder. The police officer was several feet away from Ma’khia as she lunged onto the other girl. I’m not sure what de-escalation opportunities still remained.

      I DO wish that he had immobilized her some other way. I DO wish he had arrived on the scene even 45 seconds earlier to de-escalate the situation. It’s easy to question his judgment in that moment. But I’m hearing many people say this is an example of systemic racism when it may just be an example of the how hard the job of policing can be sometimes.

    • Janine says...

      To the commenters, Irina and Sami, just a word on what police are trained to do- I often see people comment that the officer should have fired a non-lethal shot. Officers are trained to hit central body mass because they are trained to use their weapons only in situations where they or someone else is in IMMEDIATE danger of lethal harm.

      As we have sadly seen all too often, police use their weapons far more frequently. They specifically aren’t trained to hit arms or legs because those are much smaller targets, often faster moving, and more difficult to hit. Shooting arms and legs can also become lethal if the brachial or femoral artery is struck.

      I say this not in defense of the officer’s actions, but to clarify a little about how officers are trained.

    • Q says...

      Hi Joanna (commenter): your racism has blinded you to the fact that she was shot because she is black. If she were white, she would have been tasered or other deescalation tactics would have been used. Cops rush to use lethal force on black people. This is something you are not able to understand due to your racism. Please educate yourself on these issues.

    • Amy says...

      Implying that someone is racist because they do not agree with your opinion does not automatically make them a racist. It doesn’t mean that they are wrong and you are right. (And vice versa) Maybe you feel calling people names who do not agree with you is ok. I think that is called bullying.

      Can we not state our opinion without this ugliness? Explain systemic racism. Don’t call people whom you’ve never met a racist. I feel like this is a tactic to silence differing opinions. I don’t like seeing it on this website.

    • Susan says...

      Samantha, Holmes and Cruz were not actively harming someone when they were arrested, as Bryant was attempting to:

      Aurora police officer Jason Oviatt arrested Holmes a few minutes later, after finding him outside, standing with his hands on top of his car. Oviatt said Holmes was “completely compliant” when told to surrender. (from “Aurora officers describe arresting James Holmes,” USA Today, January 8, 2013)

      A police cruiser passed, and Officer Michael Leonard spotted him…Leonard called out. The young man didn’t run. He laid down on the grass, and the handcuffs went on. (from “What happened in the 82 minutes between Nikolas Cruz’s arrival and arrest during Florida shooting,” Chicago Tribune, February 15, 2018)

  52. Katie S. says...

    I came to the comments to say, WAIT!! Before you rally behind the Justice in Policing Act, please know that the BREATHE Act may be more impactful in more of the right ways. Feel free to look up the differences yourself, but here are some of the basics:

    1. The Justice in Policing Act would provide more money to police while the BREATHE act divests from the federal grants and agencies that are primarily funding law enforcement and the carceral state.
    2. The JIP Act is reliant on law enforcement to fix policing instead of entrusting communities that are closes to the issue while the BREATHE Act builds a new approach to community safety and invests in said community.
    3. The JIP Act relies on the Attorney General as the overseer of the bill while the BREATHE Act does not, building real accountability into the system.

  53. Hanna says...

    As I was learning of the verdict at my son’s soccer practice in the NYC suburbs I overheard a white kid taunting another white kid telling him he was from Africa and had Ebola. So I got an immediate lesson on what to do.

    This is anti-blackness, racism, white supremacy in the works. I heard stuff like this ALL THE TIME in the majority white suburb where I grew up. I made sure to yell at him and tell him what he was saying was horribly racist. I repeated myself to make sure he heard me and I know he did.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg. Call it out. Talk to your kids. Talk to other parents you know. Don’t let disgusting behavior like this go. Tell them and anti-blackness, racism and white supremacy that it IS NOT WELCOME where your children are growing up.

    • Mary says...

      Go, Hanna!

    • Catherine says...

      Yes, absolutely THIS! White women and moms especially, we can use our privilege for good and we have a platform. After the Saturday celebration of Biden’s election, I emailed my son’s middle school principal to ask why his weekly newsletter didn’t mention our country’s relief AT ALL. I encouraged him to step up imperfectly as a white man and advocate for students of color. We can’t worry about offending other white people when our Black neighbors are dying at the hands of police. It’s our responsibility to look out for each other, and we can’t let that burden fall only on the shoulders of Black men and women.

    • nadine says...

      Thank you for sharing Hanna. I agree with you, how this is just the tip of the iceberg. We must do better and we are responsible to act and impact on the world we want for our children.

      I’ve been reflecting as well on what is the best way to react in a situation like the one you’re describing. My aim would be to make this kid realize the importance of his words and how hurtful he can be, and in order to achieve that I don’t want him to get defensive and stop listening. One way could be formulating it as a question. Something along the lines of “why do you say/think this?” and then entering in a conversation..
      Does anyone else have other tips, what is the best way to handle a situation like this?

    • CEW says...

      Your reaction did not change anything about that boy’s future behavior, but I’m sure you’ll get some internet points for it. It’s not fun or exciting or immediately satisfying to be the bigger person, but the idea is to persuade and change minds.

    • jules says...

      i second Nadine on this. I find a pointed yet curious “Why are you saying that?” or even “What did you just say?” as a more effective opening, with kids or adults. Yelling that someone is racist gets a knee jerk rejection. You become crazy, they tell themselves they are not racist. A question can invite conversation and reflection. Just my experience. I’ve had similar experiences on a playground where a kid is doing something destructive or hurtful.

    • Claire says...

      I’m hearing that, in response to hearing children make prejudicial, harmful comments you modeled intolerance.

      Yelling at children instills more fear and confusion, plus it has the added consequence that the child will no longer trust or feel safe around the adult. The children learned you’re angry and that’s about it. You didn’t create a teachable moment by asking, “why are you saying this?” or “do you know what this means?” You further escalated an already heated situation (like police responding to crises with lethal force) rather than practicing bystander intervention or de-escalation. Further, labeling someone racist causes people to shut down. Is absolutely everything about these children racist? Nope. We’re there comments racist? Yes. Notice the difference.

      Teaching and learning happens in safe, inclusive spaces through conversations and open dialogue. I hope you’ll continue reading about more effective ways to promote learning about racism.

      – a teacher

    • Susan says...

      I agree, Nadine, Cew and Jules. I’m a teacher and I would get fired (hopefully) if I just yelled at my students when they said something disrespectful. Yelling just makes things worse.

    • Kim says...

      Yes!! CALL IT OUT!!
      Thank you!!!!!

    • Abigail says...

      Somewhat worried, yes. More willing to break unjust laws, also yes.

    • Irina says...

      After George Floyd was killed, my husband came up with what I think is a simple but brilliant and effective idea: organize a volunteer movement to have people film police-civilian interactions. Basically, someone would listen to the police scanner, and every time police were dispatched to the scene of incident, volunteers who are closest to the scene would get pinged to go and record the interaction, if they are able to. The volunteer might wear a badge or otherwise identify themselves to the police as representing this group/movement.

      We pitched this idea to the Movement for Black Lives, to the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE), and to the Tech Workers Alliance (an organization of tech sector employees wanting to contribute to the greater good). It’s been many months and we never heard back from anyone.

      My husband is not trying to make any profit from this; he just wants someone to take this concept and put it into practice so that society could benefit. Anyone here interested in doing something with this idea, or knows of anyone who could take this up?

    • Claire says...

      @irina the Black panther party did this – they called it policing the police.

    • Irina Vodonos says...

      @claire – Wow, I had no idea! That’s fantastic. Do you know what happened to this “policing the police” movement? Sounds like it did not take hold. I wonder if it could be more effective with today’s technology. We’re envisioning a rideshare type app that would automatically notify volunteers whose cell phones’ GPS data show them to be within a certain distance of the incident.

  54. Molly says...

    The verdict yesterday is absolutely a step in the right direction, however, I cannot stop thinking about Elijah McClaine. I hope that the media is also keeping him and his family in mind so that his murderers can be brought to justice in that case as well.

  55. Athena says...

    Excellent to bring accountability to police brutality. However, if we are going to elevate George Floyd to symbolic status, we must acknowledge that he also symbolizes issues endemic within the black community in America. Issues that have become sacrilege to even mention. He was convicted of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon for pushing a pistol into a young woman’s stomach while his accomplices robbed her house. He was arrested numerous times on drug and theft charges. He fathered five children with multiple women. Fentanyl and meth were found in his system during his autopsy. It is obvious that many are refusing to acknowledge his past, citing it as irrelevant. This is dishonest and self-serving. Take a look at the murder and violent crime stats for the black community in America. To turn a blind eye is to continue to allow innocent black people to suffer in their own communities. Americans are refusing to take an honest look into these issues, resorting instead to gross oversimplification and cheap, self-serving internet activism. Police brutality is a huge issue, yes, but so is the culture that is perpetuating violence. And these are not separate issues. They are deeply intertwined.

    • CM says...

      So well said, Athena. Your honesty is appreciated.

    • S says...

      Your denigration of a black man’s character due to his drug use has deeply white supremacist roots. Pick up a book by Dr. Carl Hart, you might learn a thing or two.

    • M says...

      Athena, you paint a very limited and one sided picture of this man’s life. Your comment is riddled with racist tropes that allow him to be dehumanized, which in turn allows for the justification of this senseless murder.
      The things you list are irrelevant because he did not deserve to die because of them.
      Black culture does not perpetuate violence. White supremacy does.

    • Eva says...

      @M: I don’t think she’s painting a one-sided view, I think she’s just trying to bring the big picture into focus. He did not deserve to die, but so many of his issues point to problems in the Black community that need to be addressed. Also I disagree that there are many racist tropes in the comment that dehumanize him. What she described is simply part of the story of what kind of human he was.

    • M says...

      @Eva He’s a criminal and a drug addict and has “fathered five children with multiple women”? On what universe are those not racist tropes?
      (And by the way- I completely fail to understand what the thing about fathering multiple children has to do with literally anything at all.)

  56. Mo says...

    Just called my Virginia Senator. Thank you Jo for encouraging action, always! xx

  57. Liz says...

    I do not understand (I am Canadian) why the American police use real bullets. Is there not something (rubber bullets maybe, I’m certainly no expert) that can stun a person, disable them but not KILL them? I know Mr Floyd was not shot, but that teenager who died yesterday was shot. I cried with joy at the verdict yesterday, hopefully our neighbors can start to heal, and put the damn guns away!

    • Elle says...

      Liz, as a fellow Canadian, I want to point out that the Canadian police also use real bullets. And that the Canadian law enforcement and legal systems are also racist institutions that uphold white supremacy and disproportionately, unfairly target Indigenous folks and people of colour. I, too, hope for change in the US but it’s also important to recognize that change is also necessary in Canada. I would recommend reading Desmond Cole’s “The Skin We’re In” for a Canadian perspective on anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism and police violence.

    • Meghan says...

      Liz – look into the deaths of Rodney Levi, Ejaz Choudry, Paul Boyd, Chantel Moore, D’Andre Campbell and and and…. Canada has a deep, systemic racism and police brutality. Please don’t look to the US in condemnation – rather educate yourself and join in the dismantling the system right here in Canada. I’d add to Elle’s recommendation Robyn Maynard’s book, Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to Present.

    • Amber says...

      I would also encourage you to read Robyn Maynard’s critical book on the subject POLICING BLACK LIVES: STATE VIOLENCE IN CANADA FROM SLAVERY TO THE PRESENT, and to check out her more recent lectures.

  58. JK says...

    As someone who listens and tallies these voicemails, you can never call enough! It can be a simple statement with or without your personal information. The amount of calls are what makes a difference. Quantity over quality.
    Call again and again and again.

    • NM says...

      Thanks for that info. Very helpful!!

    • AN says...

      Great to know – thank you!

    • MCM says...

      YES! A while ago, I added my senators as contacts on my phone and when ever I have a few minutes here or there, like while walking the kids up the street for a millionth time, I just give them a call! Sometimes, I say thanks and keep up the good work, sometimes, I’m thinking about this or that issue, or sometimes, pull it together and make this happen! It’s so effective and couldn’t be easier.

    • Heather says...

      MCM – same!! Having them in my contacts removed what felt like a huge barrier – it’s so simple!

    • Paulina says...

      Athena – “I used to identify with the left, but now I feel they have gone so far left they’ve become right-wing.” May I recommend that you take an intro to political science course? You can find one at any community college. Or a HS civics course? You may find it helpful to understand what the terms you’re using mean.

    • Athena says...

      Hi Paulina, thanks for your suggestions but I have already taken political science courses.
      I recognize that you meant to condescend to me, but I will engage anyway.
      I am defining ‘left’ as liberal – which means open – open to different ideas and points of view, open to criticism, free-flowing discourse, progressive and forward -moving.
      I am defining ‘far right’ as illiberal – moralizing, self-righteous, the silencing of criticism, exclusionary to alternative viewpoints, heavily policed discourse. Like fascism.
      By these definitions, I place myself on the liberal side and I place the current race theory and movement on the illiberal side.

    • M says...

      Athena- as a high school American history teacher, American politics teacher, and AP European history teacher with a masters in European History I must commend you for the clarity and accuracy of your definition of the word liberalism vs the far right. The original definition of European 19th century liberalism as a political ideology meant a worldview which valued personal and individual freedoms- freedom of thought, expression, religion, a meritocracy instead of of inherited privilege as the basis for government and military positions, plus an emphasis on rational thinking that allowed for critical debate. The far right movement that emerged in the late 19th century challenged this worldview and instead embraced illiberal, anti-democratic, and irrational thinking.
      The Democratic Party of today- with its silencing of debate and critical thinking, culture of victimhood rather than merit, can no longer be considered a liberal party – it has strayed from those ideals.
      Your thoughtful response to Paulina’s knee jerk assumption that you are uneducated underscores this point and the problems with the left.
      Know that there are people reading your articulate and respectful comments on this thread who appreciate your honesty and willingness to speak the truth.

  59. Jessie says...

    I called both of my senators (Maryland)

  60. Monica says...

    One small thing that we can do is thank our police officers when we see them acting responsibly. Positive reinforcement and gratitude is a powerful tool for change.

    • Mary says...

      I don’t think police need to be thanked for not killing people.

    • Mary says...

      I think this misses the point on police reform. I don’t think that police need to be thanked for not killing people.

    • Amanda W. says...

      What, are they small children? Why should we thank them for not murdering people? I’m not coddling police officers. They’re grown adults who should know how to act responsibly.

    • Cami says...

      I have been looking for something positive over these past few weeks and this comment is perfect.

    • Cecilia says...

      This is an odd suggestion. Does “acting responsibly” mean not killing someone who was not an actual danger to them? How low is the bar for police officers that we need to be thanking them for being decent human beings and doing the job (that they chose) with a minimum level of competence?

      Just like with any other person I encounter, I will gladly thank a police officer if I experience them doing something that deserves it. But acting responsibly when that’s in their job description (and when that’s what I’d expect from any other grown adult) is not it.

    • Z. says...

      I don’t know but saying “thank you for not killing an innocent person today” doesn’t have a good ring to it.

    • SR says...

      nah ACAB

    • Y says...

      To say we are thanking them for not killing people is missing the point. These men and women put their own lives on the line to protect and serve. We thank military members for their service, why would any one have a problem thanking the police for their service?

    • b says...

      I echo every other commenter on this thread – we should not have to applaud police officers for not killing a person in the way we applaud toddlers who have eaten their broccoli.

    • Sue says...

      I agree- I go out of my way to thank police. As an ER nurse, I have worked closely with the police at times during my career and am thankful for their service.

    • AN says...

      yeah, no. “thanks for de-escalating instead of murdering, that must have been tough for you.” i just can’t do it.

    • Anne says...

      I’m sorry that people on this thread are completely missing the point of your comment. My husband is a police officer. We are of the same socio-economic status in the lower-middle income community that he serves tirelessly day in and day out. I wish that others saw the sacrifices that he makes every day to go to work as I do.

    • SZ says...

      I have to disagree with SR. Not ACAB. One cop saved me from a rape. Let’s be careful of generalizations. That’s a dangerous thing.

    • AE says...

      So you think “thank you” solves systemic racism as well as individual bias? I’m shocked no one has ever thought of this….

    • Fiji says...

      Anne…. your husband chose to be a cop. Why does he need accolades for that? Do we thank journalists every day? Doctors? Teachers? Grocery store clerks? Your husband isn’t volunteering his time and effort. He’s getting paid to do a job. Full stop. He was aware of the ins and outs when he signed up. Full stop. Stop making grown people, who have made a career choice, heroes or victims. That’s not how this works.

    • Claire says...

      I live in England. When we walk by a police officer in the street we teach our kids that police will protect them and help them. We thank them when they serve us just like we would when a doctor, waiter, teacher helped us. This is normal and not a bizarre idea that turns police into toddlers. Killing other is not normal and thanking people is. When we hear of these killings on the radio on the way to school it takes some explaining!

    • Jean says...

      You can definitely tell on this thread and many others like it how few LEOs there are in this community, and how few people know them firsthand or, apparently, work with the public during their worst moments. I absolutely thank police for their service, much in the way I thank our military, medical professionals, and first responders. I wouldn’t have the grit for those jobs, and I’ve chosen a pretty soft life. But that life is protected by these people from many dangers. They are human beings. There’s real systemic issues in policing, terribly bad, but a whole lot of internet warriors would do well to shadow a few shifts with their local PD, or just start with having a chat with the men and women who protect their neighborhoods.

    • AD says...

      Why do police get a pass like this?! They aren’t children! Can you imagine if we thought this way for other professions? Take teachers, for example. “I just wanted to thank you, teacher, for not committing any racist murders today. You’re doing a great job not being a total white supremacist. I made you cookies to thank you for not recklessly killing anyone today. Great work!”

    • Sarah says...

      Monica, Thank you for your comment.

      Fully agree. We thank people all of the time for doing things that they are expected to do. The cashier when they hand you your receipt. The doctor at the end of a visit. Etc. It’s called courtesy. If we want to reform police, then we need to work WITH police. We need to build a relationship. This us vs. them mentality accomplishes next to nothing.

      I am disheartened by the intolerance to differing beliefs and values in the comments section of this website. Yesterday, it was differing views on Planned Parenthood. Today, it is about thanking (really?!) an officer.

    • Athena says...

      ugh. The replies on this comment are killing me. I’m sure all of you don’t have a problem thanking doctors, nurses, firemen, teachers, politicians, military service members, or scientists for their contributions to society. And they’re ‘just doing their job’. Why are police any different? Don’t be hypocrites. Their job is to enforce the law to keep us safe. Some are corrupt and terrible, just as are some in all the professions I listed above. Like it or not, the police do an important job and you all need them.

    • kiki says...

      Police do more in their day than choose between de-escalating a situation or killing someone. I think that’s what OP is getting at. Let’s not generalize this down to a binary decision. We can be thankful for the good some do while also holding them ALL accountable and demanding systemic change. As a society, we must re-think the way we approach policing.

    • jan says...

      like, ‘good job. thanks for not pulling out your gun’? No. they need the fear of god or jail put in them. calling them heroes is what got us here.

    • Diana says...

      Police reform is desperately needed. Legislation is needed. Funding needs to be reconsidered. We all need to call our representatives and demand better. If Monica had suggested otherwise I would disagree, strongly. But I think Monica’s point is that we can also do something concrete *right now* that might make things, today, better for people in our communities. One of my Black friends is a brilliant psychiatrist, and she actually has told me that one of the things she does that she thinks is *most important* is building in positive interactions with police officers whenever she sees them — because she knows that every positive interaction will make that police officer more patient and positive in their next interaction. Because that’s how human brains work (she would know, she’s the expert). And that could save a life that day, or tomorrow. Also, for all these people saying we shouldn’t be thanking people for just doing the job they chose – really? People constantly thank me for doing my job that I chose. I’m a professor and students thank me all the time for class, for responding to their questions, for showing up to office hours, for writing recommendations, etc etc. And I constantly thank others! Bus drivers, grocery store clerks, nurses, delivery people, my child’s teachers, crossing guards … of course I thank these people, all the time. I’m not thanking them for the absence of doing their jobs poorly or irresponsibly – I’m thanking them for doing their jobs well. And honestly, you’d think I was a jackass if I said “well, it’s just my kid’s teacher’s job to teach her patiently and make her feel loved, so I think it’s unnecessary to thank her for that”. Is it really so sacrilegious to suggest we can do the same for police officers? And it doesn’t need to be heartfelt – again, it can be a calculated decision to try to smooth things over for the next person the cop interacts with. Reform is sorely needed but it’s not going to happen by the end of that cop’s shift.

    • JJ says...

      Monica, police aren’t puppies.

      And to everyone saying we should acknowledge the “good police,” this is what we call “whataboutisms” and it is a distraction from valid critiques of systemic oppression and serves to recenter white supremacy. It is exhausting. Do better.

    • +1 says...

      I think this is an excellent suggestion, Monica.

      I know I will be judged harshly for this comment, but…
      For every terrible cop there are many good ones trying to do their best in a difficult job in a violent society in a rotten system. There is a human behind the badge and many of them joined the force because they wanted to help people. Thanking someone for doing their job well, giving them some strength to carry on, that just seems like a decent thing to do and a good way to help make positive change.

    • Hilary says...

      I think Monica’s point – that we can say “thank you” as positive reinforcement – is in no way the be all, end all (nor do I think she intended to imply that!)

      We need to do it all: defund the police, invest in mental health resources, vote for things like the Breathe Act, call our senators, and for white people especially it’s about using our privilege to advocate for change. The list goes on and on.

      AND, as Brene Brown says, “Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.” I feel a lot of anger about what’s happened to BIPOC communities. And as hard as it is, I am still challenging myself to remove hate and shame, and add civility back into every interaction I have, especially when it’s with police, my Trumpy neighbors, or my family members and friends with whom I don’t see eye to eye.

      Even this thread – Monica suggested something and 17 people shame her comment into submission. We have to find ways to disagree without shame, otherwise, we won’t be able to change and as we can all agree, change is something this country so desperately needs.

    • K says...

      I agree. Be the change we wish to see in the world. It may not be our fault, but it becomes our individual responsibility to see the world the way we would like it.

    • No one THANKS me for doing my job without killing people. Please do not infantilize the police. It’s really dangerous and not very helpful.

    • Zoe says...

      ALSO– Athena, it is not the police’s job “to keep up safe.” The supreme court ruled in 2005 that “that the police did not have a constitutional duty to protect a person from harm, even a woman who had obtained a court-issued protective order against a violent husband making an arrest mandatory for a violation.” The woman in question had asked the cops for protection against her husband, they refused, and he killed their three daughters. The cops only have a duty to protect people already in their custody and even that they can’t do (see, Sandra Bland,).

      https://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/28/politics/justices-rule-police-do-not-have-a-constitutional-duty-to-protect.html

    • Andie says...

      Hey Jean, I know plenty of police officers personally. I am sad to say that while they are nice enough to get a beer with and talk about the latest football game, I have heard many of them openly talk about things that would make you fall off your chair. They have only confirmed for me that the system they work in is corrupt, and their power has removed their perspective on weeding out “bad apples”. No one is weeding these folks out. They are looking the other way. And they are so defensive that they are not willing to look in the mirror and ask how they can do better.

    • CEW says...

      Yes, ACAB. All officers are complicit. A lot of y’all are sure proud to lick your local boot.

    • AE says...

      To all the “I thank everyone” comments, guess what? My surgeon doesn’t go around killing people. My store clerk doesn’t poison my food. My doorman doesn’t shoot me. Cops do this regularly. Please stop your nonsense. I’m a doctor and I 100% do no expect thank yous for doing my job. That’s what my paycheck is for. Stop coddling cops. We all know it’s a tough job, many jobs are tough. Yet, we don’t see firemen setting houses on fire in a rage.

    • MC says...

      LOL what?

    • Athena says...

      Zoe, way to try to discredit me over petty semantics. Cops do “keep us safe” by locating and apprehending criminals and delivering them to our justice system.
      It’s incredibly disappointing how America is so divided and full of hate that even the suggestion of a simple ‘thank you’ to a police officer is controversial. I used to identify with the left, but now I feel they have gone so far left they’ve become right-wing. If you don’t have the exact approved opinions expressed with exactly the right verbiage, you are cast out & labeled something morally bereft. Dialogue is hung up on specific, academic definitions of terms and movements are given inflammatory titles like ‘defund the police’ and people are condemned for taking the literal meaning. Even Obama agrees with me on that. Glib, condescending phrases like ‘do better’ are thrown around so people can position themselves on the moral high ground.
      Ask yourself, are you TRULY working to better our society as a whole, or are you seeking the emotional gratification of feeling superior to others? This is a question for everyone.
      I’m sure my comment won’t pass moderation!

    • Jess says...

      I wish all of the people in this thread defending the actions of the police would fight with the same energy and empathy to defend Black lives.

    • KA says...

      Monica, like you, I believe that there are police officers who are good and decent, which is why I fully support defunding or abolishing the police. I come from a law enforcement family. My dad was an officer and a detective and is a truly decent person. He would have made a terrific social worker under a different system. He loved helping people. The trauma he endured as an officer from the culture in the system is disgusting. His coworkers assaulted people, raped women, sexually abused their own children—and these are only the cops in his department who were punished (though, only one went to jail…for being a serial abuser of women—to reiterate, he worked with a known pedophile who was “reprimanded” but never taken to court. Let that sit in.) My father retired the second he could. If you want to do something kind for the good officers out there, dismantle the system. It’s hurting them, too.

    • Sarah says...

      Spoken like someone who is not clearly BIPOC, or is not partnered to a BIPOC person. I feel immense fear when I am around a police officer for my Black husband and child, based on the 100% negative experiences that have deeply impacted my husband (and I’m talking nearly a dozen, some violet stop and frisk from our NYC days). Not to mention times white people threatened him with the police for no reason (but knowing that the police would see him as a threat). FYI, my husband has two Ivy grad degrees and looks like the software nerd he is. Based on those 100% negative experiences and 0% good experiences (similar to our family/friends) how is it possible if there is not a culture of racism in policing?
      PLEASE no “my husband is a cop” or “a few bad apples” comments from light-skinned people who do not live with this legitimate fear and are demanding change. I don’t believe “positive reinforcement and gratitude is a powerful tool for change” when just a few days ago my husband was pulled over in PDX and asked to get out of the car for NO legitimate reason, and the cops just laughed and told him to get back in and said they were checking that he owned his 2007 Prius. Should I thank a cop walking by for not profiling him?

    • Hope-less says...

      I used to completely identify with the left, but it is becoming an increasingly alienating force. This breaks my heart because I definitely don’t identify with any component of the political right. But the left is transforming into a completely judgemental, close-minded group of zealots. There seems to be less and less room for nuance, for genuine discourse. It is all about condemnation and scapegoating. I fear for this world because a fractured and extreme left is not going to find the solutions needed, especially not in a world where fascism is becoming a real threat. Look at the responses here… all because one person suggested we might thank a police officer when they do a good job? It is just sad.

    • Kim says...

      “Thanks for not murdering an unarmed child today! Great job!”

      Would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

    • Kim says...

      Hey Athena, the police have a job to do, to protect and serve the people! Not act as judge, jury and executioner.

      Why even comment, if you are a huge supporter of the police? This is not the time and place for you to aggressively argue your blue lives matter beliefs to others.

    • Athena says...

      Kim, in my world there is nuance. You are mistaken, I am not a ‘huge supporter of the police’ and I don’t go around professing ‘blue lives matter’.
      Just because I don’t belong to your group doesn’t mean I automatically belong to the far right. I am a lifelong liberal, have always and only voted Democrat, but feeling more and more alienated by the black & white thinking. I simply don’t believe that professing blanket disdain for police & abolishing the institution is helpful. I think it is actually extremely harmful to the many vulnerable people who need policing in their communities.
      Why is nobody willing to talk about this?
      Reform, great! But it seems we can’t even talk about policing without people getting massively offended, telling others their opinions don’t matter, telling them to be quiet, etc. I am exhausted by the mob of people coming to silence anyone who slightly deviates from the short list of approved opinions. We will never find any solutions this way.

    • annie says...

      athena, i agree with you. i’m also a lifelong liberal (whatever that’s worth) and fight with my vote, my dollars, and my voice for equal rights and for major systemic changes that center Black and brown folks who deserve better than what they’ve gotten. i also see that the way that the conversations about policing and ideas about reform happen on social media (such as here) is very emotional for some, and as such often leaves no room for nuance or empathy–it’s pure reaction. the very idea that saying thank you to any public servant means, to some, that you’re somehow condoning the murder of a child is disheartening. i fully agree that Black people need support more than anything right now, but it would be a mistake to believe that throwing every police officer under the bus is an effective way to show that support. as a (Black female) commenter states nearer the top of the comments section, it would be actively hurtful to some Black communities to do away with police completely.

      to pretend these issues are cut and dried is to ignore their complexity.

      i hope the conversation continues to evolve and that we can continue to listen and find new ways to support each other and the Black + brown communities who need it right now.

    • Nicolee says...

      Nope. I wonder how many well-meaning people thanked Derek Chauvin over the course of his career just because he was wearing a badge and a uniform.

    • Stella says...

      Athena & Annie, instead of professing how liberal you are and suggesting those calling for police/prison abolition have no nuance, consider that you are missing the nuance in the abolitionist argument. Abolitionists aren’t advocating for removing policing and then leaving vulnerable communities on their own, abolition is about making police *obsolete*. It’s about replacing policing and carceral practices with social services and restorative justice (which actually prevent crime, while policing & prisons only respond to crime). Policing is a bandaid solution to deep-rooted inequities, abolition is about addressing the root issue. Don’t you want to live in a world where we don’t need to rely on the police? Let’s make it happen! STRONG COMMUNITIES MAKE POLICING OBSOLETE! <3

      I encourage you to learn more about the decades of work abolitionists have been doing. Here are some resources that I hope you'll engage with:

      Videos explaining restorative justice
       https://bcrw.barnard.edu/videos/introduction-to-restorative-justice/

      Mariame Kaba on abolition:
       https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/2020/06/12/opinion/sunday/floyd-abolish-defund-police.amp.html

      A podcast episode of Call Your Girlfriend on what police abolition looks like:
      https://www.callyourgirlfriend.com/episodes/2020/06/05/police-abolition-mariame-kaba

    • S says...

      Shameful comment. What if we were like — “hey teachers of America: thanks for not abusing children today! You deserve a cookie!” Your message is distracting and uniformed.

  61. Sarah says...

    Left a voicemail for Sen Ron Wyden and actually talked to an aide at Senator Merkeley’s office! I haven’t had anyone answer the phone there in a year, so that was an entirely pleasant surprise. Also set up a bi-weekly donation to https://www.joincampaignzero.org/ in memory of George Floyd.

  62. Sam says...

    Thank you for outlining so clearly the difference between accountability and justice. Just called my representatives!

    • Mouse says...

      Yes, accountability will hopefully lead to justice.

  63. joy says...

    Thank you for posting this. Quick question–it appears that HR1280 has already passed the House, so I’m not sure what calling representatives will do. Shouldn’t the pressure now be on the Senate?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, thank you! fixed!

  64. Daniah Din says...

    Since it was already passed in the House should we be calling our Senators instead? Or should we still call our House Reps as well? (Also thank you for this post and call to action <3).

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Yes!! Senators! I’m sorry for the mistake — fixing now xo

  65. Charlotte says...

    Thanks for this Joanna, I just contacted my senators.

  66. Melz says...

    Long time Minneapolis resident.
    We are so so relieved. There are so many mixed emotions! Exhaustion mixed with overwhelmingness of what lies ahead in social justice & police reform… thank you for making this your lead post today 4/21/21.

  67. E says...

    Just called after visiting George Floyd Square. Took me 1 minute. Thank you for this post and the phone number.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much, E.