The horror of George Floyd’s murder by the Minneapolis police will not soon leave us. Likewise, the horror of many other such inhuman acts will not soon leave us.
Nor should it. The righteous protests prompted by these state crimes give us hope once again that serious, structural changes will be made to our policing.
We’ve been disappointed before in this endeavor. God grant that we not be disappointed again. After all, this is about people being able to walk down the street safe from harm — including harm from the people charged with protecting them.
There’s a right way and a wrong way to do this. Peaceful protest and collaboration leading to courageous legislation is the right way.
The wrong way is to go overboard with calls to “defund the police” and a message that all cops are bad actors. This path is misguided for several reasons.
First, it’s factually incorrect. Second, it gives a potent weapon to those who resist change, allowing them to charge that the protesters are extreme radicals who would dismantle our whole public safety system.
Third, it’s morally flawed in disregarding the huge majority of police who go to work every day and night, doing their job humanely and responsibly. What about them?
Finally, this overreach ignores the reality that our lives depend on the police, just as much as they depend on ambulance and emergency room personnel. Where would we be if the police did not show up for work every day and night?
In the end, this is a discussion, and mutual respect is vital.
And let’s not act as though this can all be done just by citizens and their legislators, without involving the police themselves — because it can’t.
Instead of focusing exclusively on the bad elements, let’s reach out to the far more numerous good elements and fix the problem together. It’s the only way.
Mr. Lynch is the treasurer for the Southampton Town Democratic Committee — Ed.
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