Too many routine police encounters are ending with unarmed citizens being killed, with people of color disproportionately being targeted. Two shocking videos released last week, one depicting the shooting death of an unarmed 13-year-old boy, underscore the need for a radical rethink of the way police forces in St. Louis and around the country respond on the streets. Instead of resisting reforms, politicians and police unions should recognize the problem and work to restore the public trust by holding cops accountable for their actions.
Most of the police officers involved in deadly shootings of unarmed civilians receive light disciplinary action or go unpunished entirely. Just as our democracy has come under threat in recent years, America’s system of law enforcement is also being threatened by a massive loss of trust.
When NFL players began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 to bring attention to police violence against Black Americans, many vilified the players, missing the message entirely and instead focused on what they perceived as disrespect for the American flag. But the video last year of a uniformed police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd in Minneapolis for 9 minutes and 29 seconds — well past the point Floyd’s last breath had left his body — more than justifies the take-a-knee protest by Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players.