Once more, another unarmed black man is dead at the hands of a white man.
This time, it’s a man named George Floyd. Once more, his murder was caught on camera. Without that cell phone footage, his death would have gone unnoticed by most of the world. The police report told a much different story. Those responsible for his murder would have gotten away with it had the video not been released to the public.
As usual, there were protests.
As usual, there were calls for an end to racism.
But, in this case, I feel like I need to say something. Mostly because, so far, I haven’t heard a single person voice this same thought and I needed to get it out there, for what it’s worth.
Yes, of course, America has a serious racism problem. Our nation was founded on slavery, by Founding Fathers who owned slaves, and built their wealth on the backs of slave labor. Our nation’s prominence, power and prestige is largely due to the wealth created and sustained by slave labor.
These are the facts.
But in the case of what happened to George Floyd, and literally thousands of other black men and women [and children] who have died at the hands of American police brutality, there is another serious problem we need to address: The need for radical police reform.
See, we’re not going to stop the sort of deadly force that killed George Floyd, or Philando Castile, or Sandra Bland, or Tamir Rice or John Crawford III, or so many others, by vowing to end racism in America. This is too vague and, frankly, too impossible a task to undertake. Especially if our goal is to put a stop to the casual murder of black people in America at the hands of our police force.
But radical police reform could put a stop to these murders. Sweeping, national, mandatory police re-training that not only teaches officers how NOT to respond to people of color, but also enforces this training with strict penalties for breaking these rules with a strong “no tolerance” policy for officers who fail to respond appropriately.
As it stands now, I can tell you exactly how the police force in Minneapolis looks at people of color. We have two very vivid examples in recent days: One, the way those 4 officers casually murdered George Floyd in broad daylight, ignoring his pleas for oxygen and slowly suffocating the life out of him in the street; and Two, the way that same police force responded to peaceful protests of that same action with tear gas, rubber bullets and flash grenades.
Conclusion: The police officers in Minneapolis see black people as the enemy. They have no regard for their lives. They have an “Us/Them” mentality that is on full display.
What will change this?
Not a campaign against racism.
Not a riot in the streets.
Not your Facebook posts about injustice.
None of this will put an end to the way those police officers treat the black community.
Even the most racist officers will be required to follow procedures that minimize violence, humanize African Americans, and reduce the death rate of black people at the hands of our police force. Those officers who fail to react as they have been re-trained to respond will be suspended – without pay – and replaced quickly and without question.
This is the only way anything will ever change.
We have to go to the source of our problem, and in this case, the problem is with how police officers respond to people of color.
As long as police departments continue to operate under the current status quo, these sorts of deaths will continue.
Or, as one man once noted: “The system you have is perfectly designed to give you the results you are now experiencing.”
If we hope to change the experience, we need to completely change the system.
Anything we do outside of this will accomplish exactly nothing.
I don’t know about you, but I am beyond tired, and angry, at watching black people die this way.
We can change it.
We need to change it.
We have to change it.
Let’s change it now.
Keith Giles and his wife, Wendy, work with Peace Catalyst International to help build relationships between Christians and Muslims in El Paso, TX. Keith was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church over a decade ago to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. Today he is the author of several best-selling books, including “Jesus Undefeated: Condemning the False Doctrine of Eternal Torment” which is available now on Amazon.