Rep. Elijah Cummings: Police-Community Relations Is The ‘Civil Rights Cause Of This Generation’

I agree with Rep. Elijah Cummings, we were mistaken to ever think that civil rights, as an issue, was done with simply because congress had passed the 1964 civil rights legislation,  signed into law by President Johnson; in hindsight, it seems very naive to think that simply because something was signed into law, that miraculously society as a whole would heed the greater implications and adapt to it readily. Similarly we have President Kennedy’s Equal Pay Act of 1963, a wonderful moment in legislative history, however fast forward to 2015 and women are still being paid 78 cents to a man’s dollar.  We may have theoretically acknowledged the need for legislative action nation wide in terms of equality across the board, however the nascent bigotry and prejudice has simmered below the surface for years and is now expressing itself within the judicial system in other ways. Our renewed antagonistic and violent relationship between police departments and African-American communities is a by-product, I think of the industrial prison system complex, a direct outgrowth from the large-scale privatization movement of recent years, the school to prison pipeline that has set up shop in certain states, the non-local nature of police department make-up in many communities. We have to demilitarize our police departments and get them back to living in the communities that they police; your police officer should be a neighbor, not someone from beyond the neighborhood, from a suburb an hour away, rather a police officer who knows the neighborhood kids and the teachers at the elementary school for example. Our police department sneed to be invested in the social, political and economic outcomes of their communities and they should look at their beat as not just being on the job, but keeping their communities safe and stable. It is in all of our best interests that we get our collective act together when it comes to the relationship between our public servants the police and our communities. It effects all of us at every level because we charge our police to serve and protect and we deserve to feel served and protected just as the police need to feel supported and respected as they go about their fulfillment of their duties. It is a symbiotic relationship and an important one at that.

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