We have been here before. From the 1968 riots after MLK’s death to the 1992 Rodney King verdict riots to George Floyd’s senseless death and everything in between. Pete Seeger said it best, “Why do we never learn?”
We have had marches, we have had looting, riots and we have seen NFL players fired for taking a knee. We have had lawsuits that have ended with decimating voting rights. Nothing has worked to solve inequality in this nation. Why? Because solutions are time consuming and expensive.
Police departments such as Chicago’s need a culture change. CPD and others across America have been under federal consent decrees. Reforms such as objective oversight boards must be given a chance to work.
The new president of the Fraternal Order of Police does not speak as though he is on board with reform. I hope this changes. Crisis Intervention Team training, use of force training, social work involvement, and officer accountability for one another can change the culture from warrior to guardian mentality.
But the deeper issue remains the racial and economic gap between the haves and the have nots. LBJ tried to lessen that gap with the War on Poverty in 1964. It was working until the Vietnam War stole its funding.
We need a new commitment to Get the Gap. We need to spend real money on healthcare for all, adequate and affordable housing in all neighborhoods and suburbs, schools that make all kids work hard and jobs that pay a decent wage.
COVID -19 has magnified this gap. Perfectly treatable pre-existing conditions that could have been addressed with proper healthcare has caused this virus to devastate our most vulnerable folks. Lack of remote learning for our poorest students should break the hearts of all Americans.
What breaks my heart is the worry that people are protesting so closely in the streets because those in power only seem to care about tax breaks to those who do not need them. Will the COVID numbers be up in a week or two among those who saw no choice but to scream their rage in public? Or will tear gas be touted as the new antiviral?