June 18, 2020
Rayshard Brooks was murdered on June 12th, as he ran from police. Yesterday, a mere 5 days later, we saw a charge of Felony Murder laid against the policeman who killed him. While our hearts are still broken for Mr Brooks’ family, we hope they take some satisfaction that the first step toward justice has been taken.
Here in San Diego, a man named Nicholas Bils was shot by a Sheriff’s deputy on May 1st, as he ran from custody. Yesterday, 47 days later, no charges have been laid against his murderer. We wonder what Mr Bils’ family must think of this delay.
The murder of George Floyd has brought so many people into the streets and to the cause of justice. Not only black people, but asian, hispanic and white people, too, have been out protesting against police violence and racial injustice. We hope and pray that this commitment to justice is sustained, and this is a dawn of a new era. We hope that our leaders realize that the time for “de-escalation philosophies” and vague promises of reform are over. We do not want promises and pretty words; we want solid policies and procedures with true accountability.
President Obama initiated a Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which was a nationwide effort to determine the best course for policing. After traveling the country, listening to community members, government agencies and police officers themselves, these best practices were written up in their final report.
We don’t need more study. We know what to do. We just need bolder action from our leaders.
The first bolder action we are looking for is this: a murder charge against the deputy who killed Mr Bils.
Our white neighbors must understand that, while the modern militarized police force may have been built to target African-Americans, once you have built a murder machine, there will be “collateral damage.” You are not safe against overly aggressive, poorly trained, warrior-minded “peace” officers. Safer than African-Americans are, yes; safe, no.
It’s time for our members, allies and supporters to get serious about fundamental police reform. Not for a month, not until the quarantine is over, not until the November election; we need work until the job is done.
Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch