In order to truly put an end to senseless murders like George Floyd’s, we need progressive DAs who won’t shy away from prosecuting those in power.
18 prior complaints. That’s how many the officer who murdered George Floyd had. Over his nineteen year career, Derek Chauvin had been involved in multiple incidents that led to formal complaints being filed against him by Minneapolis citizens. This includes multiple shootings, and deaths. Yet somehow, he was still allowed on the street, with a badge and a gun. This officer, a clear danger to the community, was allowed to continue to roam the streets and terrorize innocent civilians like George Floyd.
Clearly Chauvin’s continued employment itself was a failure of the system at its most basic level. How can those who are sworn to serve and protect be allowed to continually abuse that oath to harass those who are the most vulnerable in our community? What must our leaders do?
Recent events in this country have shown that now more than ever, our local prosecutors must stake their claim as advocates for justice in our legal system. We need progressive prosecutors who will not shy away from investigating and prosecuting police officers who commit misconduct.
First, our white elected leaders must be willing to acknowledge that they themselves will never truly understand the pain and fear that black men continue to experience at the hands of law enforcement in this country. As a white male, my privilege allows me the opportunity to be angered at George’s murder, while at the same time being personally distanced from any true feeling of fear or prejudice at the hands of law enforcement. It’s clear, guys like Derek Chauvin aren’t after folks like me. They are preying instead upon black males in our communities, seeking to destabilize and destroy the black community with their racist policing practices.
Any white elected official must first be willing to acknowledge this unfortunate truth that exists at the heart of criminal legal system. Only then can they truly work to root out individuals like Chauvin. When we admit that we do not, and will never know the true pain of racism, we can begin learning from those in our community who are actually doing the work of racial justice.
We must also acknowledge another difficult but obvious truth: our criminal legal system too often allows police officers to operate well outside the confines of the laws they are sworn to uphold. To truly hold police accountable, we must reaffirm ourselves to the principle that no one should be above the law, period.
This reaffirmation allows a truly progressive prosecutor to focus on the most important function of a DA: to ensure the safety of the community. This is done first and foremost by ensuring those who harm our community are held accountable for their actions, even if they have a badge. This is why we must not be afraid to use our prosecutorial powers to punish those who abuse the public’s trust, including cops who engage in misconduct.
Our elected DAs are the ones to whom the public looks in order to hold abusive police accountable. However, we see all too often prosecutors unwilling to take the steps of actually pursuing justice for victims of police violence.
This is why as Douglas County DA, I will take all allegations of police abuse seriously, and prosecute these cases to the fullest extent of my power. I will never shy away from using all resources available to investigate and prosecute police officers who engage in misconduct. All police misconduct cases will be independently investigated and charged accordingly by my office.
Many officers do their jobs well, that’s why it’s crucial that those who have a pattern of excessive force, lying, or using racial or xenophobic language not be allowed to participate in our criminal justice system. That is why I will also develop a “Do Not Call” list in my office, to keep those officers that do engage in misconduct from taking the stand. Police are meant to serve the people. This service starts first and foremost with accountability and transparency.
Here’s another number:
1 in 1000. Those are the odds of a black man being killed by a police officer in the US in 2020. In the United States, police shootings have become a leading cause of death for young black men. Make no mistake, the ENTIRE criminal legal system is culpable for this devaluation of human life.
Now more than ever we must not be afraid to elect progressive prosecutors who are not afraid to stand up to police unions, and those who would seek to marginalize and abuse marginalized people in our legal system. The time for direct action is now. Nothing we do or say can bring back George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, or Ahmaud Arbery. All we can do is honor their memory by aggressively attacking the evils of systemic racism that plague our criminal legal system.
We need direct action. We need justice, now.
To learn more about our progressive platform, and our plans for holding police accountable go here.