Commentary: No justice, no peace: Why passing the Justice in Policing Act is so crucial

Morris Township vigil for George Floyd, organized by Black Lives Matter Morristown, May 30, 2020. Photo by Louise Witt
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By Jeri Patasnik

This country desperately needs to eradicate our epidemic of police violence and its destructive impact on black communities.

Solving the problem of police violence will take more than enacting evidence-based policies. It will require the country to confront its long history of systemic racism, white supremacy, gun culture, and police militarization.

Police violence disproportionately affects Black Americans, as evidenced by the fact that they’re nearly three times more likely to be shot to death by police than white Americans.

This is simply unacceptable.

“I feel a sense of urgency that we should be a nation of safety and security,” proclaimed Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) in a virtual meeting with NJ Moms Demand Action leaders on July 13.

I could not agree more.

Strong rules must be put in place to break this cycle. We need a federal ban on choke holds, and we need consequences for police use of excessive or unnecessary force.

Passing common sense legislation that encompasses these life-saving, evidence-based changes embodied in the Justice in Policing Act is essential to starting this crucial change.

Had similar legislation already been in place, George Floyd and countless other victims of police brutality  – primarily Black Americans – would still be alive today.

Had police officers been required to identify themselves as law enforcement before using lethal force,  Breonna Taylor and countless others would also still be alive today.

Had police departments implemented early intervention programs to identify and address violent officers, countless more would be alive today.

Rebuilding trust between law enforcement and their communities is also a critical priority, which cannot happen until we de-militarize law enforcement.

But as Americans, we can’t just stop paying attention. We need to turn our rage and grief into concrete action. President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell think we’ll get tired and just move on. Let’s prove them wrong.

Booker recalled, “As Dr. King said, ‘Change does not roll in on a wheel of inevitability….It must be carried on the backs of foot soldiers who are willing to do the work to make it happen.’ WE are those foot soldiers.”

Moms Demand Action gun sense activists are proudly in lockstep with those fighting to make the change that should have already been made.

Please join our fight to undo these inequities and injustices that Black Americans face within our current legal system.

Please call, write, and tweet at your Senators, demanding they support the Justice in Policing Act as a meaningful step to eradicating police violence. Ask them which side of history they’d like to be on.

Then, text “Ready” to 644-33 to join us, Morris County Moms Demand Action. You do NOT need to be a mother to be a Mom. If you believe it’s our patriotic duty to reclaim America’s safety from gun violence in all its forms, then your passion and intolerance for injustice will be warmly welcomed.

Jeri Patasnik of Morristown is Morris County Communication Lead for Moms Demand Action.

Editor’s note: The views expressed above are the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect those of this publication.

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