Reset America: You Answered the Call
By Nick Fouriezos
After Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts related to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, OZY co-founder Carlos Watson asked you readers what needs to happen next. Here are some of the best responses he received.
The police need better training! This policeman should have called the paramedics for a medical evaluation of George Floyd before trying to subdue him by force! This training is definitely important for the police forces! Reform the police and train them better!
One of the things that seems to be lost is community connection with neighbors. This loss seems to have happened in conjunction with the exponential increase in technology use. Also, police officers used to live in the communities they serve; this does not seem as true in general now … Would it make sense to encourage prospective hires in the police force to find homes in the community or neighborhood they are to serve? I believe some cities have worked on increasing so-called “beat” police, which encourages interaction, leading to familiarity, which seems to me a sensible way to try to reduce the rampant fear and violence that currently separate. If people know one another, it’s easier to find a connection; a way to de-escalate tensions.
I also think we need to find a better way to express the theory of “defunding” the police. I think there will always be a need for police officers but we need to provide them with better support in areas and situations that are more appropriately handled by social services and mental health professionals.
Here are thoughts from a white woman in her ’60s. I have witnessed through the years (living a great deal of my life in New Orleans) much of the bias that we are finally seeing uncovered. What I have seen is that while there is bias on both sides, the consequences weigh tragically and much more heavily on African Americans. While bias has continued for what seems like forever, for many who are not African American, it just has not registered. Suddenly now, there are a lot of us having epiphanies that things are really bad in ways we didn’t realize. With the divisions created by the past, we have all gotten comfortable in our own little worlds with not a lot of gathering or communicating with each other. In my case, I have always had many close friends of many ethnicities but even I have begun noticing ways that in my own thinking show bias that I would never have noticed. It came with my upbringing and from generations past.
We all have a long way to go and I would ask that on both sides, we begin to try to push through those unconscious biases together. Forgiveness is a word that is not discussed much in this polarized world but to get to where we need to be from where we are, that has to come first. I believe we must not only forgive each other but also ourselves and go from there. That has to happen on both sides of the divide. We must then have open discussions and keep on talking until we both feel our truths are being acknowledged.
Police violence has got to stop. Bias and racism have got to stop. I have a 15-year-old African American grandson and I fear for him in the five minutes it takes for him to walk from the door to get on the bus for school every day. If my grandson were to die, I would die with him. This is a child I have raised since he was 2 years old. I cannot even walk with my autistic African American granddaughter to our local Kwik Trip for fear of seeing a police cruiser. It instills absolute terror in me because she acts out sometimes and it takes patience and time to calm her down. I worry that a police officer will see this happening and think he/she needs to get involved. I have no doubt that interaction will escalate my granddaughter’s behaviors. She is so frightened of law enforcement already since seeing all her brothers and sisters of color being shot.
What to do? Our laws/policies need to change starting at the federal level and filtering down to the county level. We first need the data to support these changes. It needs to be mandated for officers and agencies to track systemically the level of racial bias and violence against people of color in policing. That documentation can be used by our government officials to put together ongoing changes that need to take place, and can then be voted into practice. This will take time and we cannot wait for this documentation before acting. We need to start now with training, and continue to update the training of officers to de-escalate conflict and potentially violent situations, rather than creating havoc out of a situation that could be handled with calm. It needs to be mandated that every officer use a body-worn camera, and it needs to be turned on and operating correctly. We need to hold officers responsible for their acts of misconduct by changing the Bill of Rights that shields a law enforcement officer from being investigated for misconduct.
I cried when I watched the video of Mr. Floyd being accosted by Chauvin. I didn’t know Mr. Floyd had passed at that point. My anger boiled when I found out … and it made me look at myself, I am white, in my ’50s, grew up in Boulder, Colorado, a very white affluent community, who does not believe I have a racist bone in my body. I realized after inspecting the past and how I view things I may be racist in a quiet way, someone tells a joke and uses a word I [find appalling] and I don’t say something … I see a person of color and take a second look … I am shocked when I have listened to someone speak and then think they are white because of the way they speak. I think it is progress that I can recognize my shortcomings. It’s not enough, I have to be better.
We need to educate through experience! Police ride along programs, mentor an inner-city kid, walk within a community to hear their pains, help to eradicate racism, training police officers to handle situations differently, listening to one another. What I see most when I see these types of situations is police yelling for the suspect to do something, and when they don’t comply within a period of time they escalate the situation. We need to learn to deescalate the situation.
The verdict yesterday was indeed a turning point and it for sure inspired a lot of people to activate. I’m very hopeful but afraid! Historically whenever we as a nation, especially the Black and brown community, see any light of progress, we experience a revolt from the other side. We’ve seen that with the election of Trump because we have the first Black president. The current Georgia election law as a result of the Black and brown community realizing their voice/vote matters. I’m afraid — what is going to happen next? How to prepare in anticipation of what could transpire. However, I remain hopeful!
As an educated African American woman, wife and mother of four beautiful children, the recent events that have transpired regarding our humanity is increasingly alarming. My husband and I are doing everything we can to prepare our children for this crazy world that we live in. Yet, how can we really prepare them to encounter a world that sees them as less than? How can we prepare them to live when there are those who seek to destroy them for absolutely no reason? How do we begin to prepare them to face the struggles that are associated with their skin? It seems like there is no solution. How does the killing of innocent, African American people young and old continuously happen without repercussions?
We were [farther along] than this as a nation. What happened? It seems like we have been catapulted backwards in the last four years. But, I refuse to believe that all the hard work that those who have marched, spoken and fought for us to progress is in vane. We shall overcome! Unfortunately, this is the road to progress. Nevertheless, I will continue to do everything I can to be a light in this world and teach my children to do the same.
First of all I feel sadness for the family of George Floyd for the senseless murder! But as for the trial, I feel a sense of hope for everyone in these United States of America. I’m Mexican American and I have seen or heard on the news about shootings by police officers that did not seem right. Police seem to think that because they wear a badge and carry a gun that they have the right to do as they please. Of course not all officers feel or think this way, but many do. So many people have been rough handled or shot by police officers — and I’m talking about all Americans of every color or nationality including whites. It is true that this has happened more to people of color, but yet it has happened to all.
The three verdicts will open doors for other unjustified shootings by police officers, so maybe now they will get more training on how not to shoot so quickly or not to use some of these dangerous methods of restraints. I can only hope. The federal, state and city governments should start making the changes or the training to avoid this happening again. I would have said “ever happening again” but I do believe I would be asking for too much. I too fear the police when I shouldn’t. So, I pray for Mr. Floyd and the rest of America for a better America.
I am a Black mother. My heart has been broken over and over again by these white police officers killing our beautiful babies. I’m not sure if other cultures feel the same way, but when one of us suffers, we can all feel it! As a Black mother, I have to parent with this extra weight of not knowing if my children will make it home safe! We don’t have a manual to get through this! I have to remind myself to breathe daily! This society doesn’t value our Black bodies! While I believe change happens through conversation, I also believe motherhood is the answer! Women are the pillar of change! Black women are the backbone of the movement! I think it will be helpful to have mothers of all different races to listen to Black mothers. I know when a killing happens I text my white mom friends and let them know … that could be my son or husband, who they know really well! That shifts their perspective.
I too was afraid of what the verdict might be. I was afraid once again America would tell us that our lives are not as important as the people that do not look like me. I am the only African American woman at my job of 300-plus employees, so everyday I feel some type of way walking through my job. I enjoy my job and the owners are incredibly kind and wonderful people. Unfortunately I have had some instances with co-workers that were uncomfortable and I started to wonder what others think when they see me. I wonder how many voted for Trump. I wonder when I laugh, am I too loud. I wonder if they think about me what they think about the “average Black person” they see on the news doing something horrible. I wonder so many things and it’s mentally exhausting, it really is.
I really hope that the Senate will rapidly approve the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. There is no reason that this act shouldn’t be approved. It will stop chokeholds and end qualified immunity for police officers. The nation wants this act passed and the Senate should do their part by approving it. Democrats and, yes, Republicans, should approve it. This is one step to attempt to try to heal people.
The verdict was a victory on so many different levels. It was not only justice for Mr. Floyd but all those before him, but only if changes are made. The most disturbing part of the video, to me, was that it was obviously being videotaped. Those officers must have thought what they were doing was somehow OK. There is something fundamentally wrong if they believed that their actions would be acceptable in the eyes of the world.
I am an older white woman with many friends and coworkers of color that I love dearly and consider my closest friends. I am ashamed and embarrassed that I did not know the extent that white supremacy exists in this country. The other victory in the verdict goes to the police officers who finally spoke up. Hopefully it will show that there are good officers out there and, God willing, outnumber the bad. I believe a path to solution is communicating. I don’t believe I’m the only ignorant, although well meaning, person. Perhaps community meetings and projects to improve neighborhoods that would include all races and law enforcement in the hope to build trust and reach a common goal.
- Nick Fouriezos