Stop Playing Political Games and Address Police Violence

Police clash with protesters near the Kenosha County Courthouse, Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. (Morry Gash Photo)

The CAP Times – Almost three months ago, as protesters filled the streets in Madison, Milwaukee and communities across the country following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers declared that “his death was not an anomaly. We hear the echo of the words of Eric Garner. We relive the pain of the death of Black Wisconsinites like Dontre Hamilton, Sylville Smith, Ernest Lacy and Tony Robinson. We listen to the call and repeat, answered by generations of Black voices who’ve marched before in these very same streets.”

“George Floyd’s death — and the lives taken before him — are symptomatic of the disease we’ve failed to adequately treat for four centuries. Racism has never really gone away — it has only manifested itself in different ways, from incarceration rates to health outcome disparities, the wage gap to education inequity, and in good intentions.”

Jacob Blake's dad says son left paralyzed by police shooting
Police clash with protesters near the Kenosha County Courthouse, Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wis. / Morry Gash Photo
Evers proposed to begin to address the disease by calling on the state legislature to “immediately pass Assembly Bill 1012 that would reform our use of force policies by prioritizing preserving life and minimizing the use of force and send it to my desk for signature.” He also called on municipal and county government officials to join to take action at the local level.
The Legislature failed to act.

Too many officials in too many places failed to act.

“We all watched the horrific video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back several times by Kenosha police,” said attorney Benjamin Crump, who has been retained by Blake’s family. “Even worse, his three sons witnessed their father collapse after being riddled with bullets. Their irresponsible, reckless, and inhumane actions nearly cost the life of a man who was simply trying to do the right thing by intervening in a domestic incident. It’s a miracle he’s still alive.”

Crump said, “We will seek justice for Jacob Blake and for his family as we demand answers from the Kenosha Police Department. How many more of these tragic ‘while Black’ tragedies will it take until the racial profiling and undervaluing of Black lives by the police finally stops?”

The answer to that question must be: no more.
There are immediate steps that can and should be taken.

Rep. Mark Pocan, a native of Kenosha who now represents Madison and south-central Wisconsin in Congress, responded with appropriate urgency when he said, “Police violence against Black people reflects a broken policing system — and justice must be served. The officers ‘involved’ must be arrested.”

The legislation that Evers urged lawmakers to enact months ago spoke to this issue, by prioritizing preserving life and minimizing the use of force by police. It was only a beginning, a small step toward the justice that is needed. Yet, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, refused to take it up.
That refusal was unconscionable then.

Now, with the latest evidence of what Evers properly recognizes as a long history of Black people being “shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or in our country,” the Republican refusal to act is jarring.

Yet, Vos continues to play games. His call for a task force to examine issues that have already been examined represents an obscene dereliction of duty.

State Rep. David Bowen, D-Milwaukee, speaks for the great mass of Wisconsinites when he says, “The goal is to pass bills, and we need our Republican colleagues to get on board and come to the table.”

Their proposal points to the need for inside and outside action, and for political and protest strategies that recognize the urgency of a moment when we cannot allow any more months pass without responding to the disease we’ve ALL failed to adequately treat for four centuries.
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