Changing the Narrative Between Police and Black Communities Starts in the Voting Booth

 Police_oped.jpgMichael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old who was gunned down by a police officer during a random stop in Furgeson, Mo.; Eric Garner, a 43-year-old father and husband who was stopped by Staten Island, N.Y., police for allegedly selling cigarettes and placed in an illegal chokehold that resulted in his death; and John Crawford, 22, shot to death in a Beavercreek, Ohio, Wal-Mart by police who mistook a BB gun held by Crawford and sold by the store for a real gun. 

The death of these young men at police hands represent the most recent spat of aggressive policing that far too often results in the death of unarmed Black citizens. But the rapid-succession of these most recent incidents highlights the need for elected officials and other policymakers to address instances of police bias that can result in unnecessary use of force and guns in the line of duty.  In a recent segment for her MSNBC show The Reid Report, journalist Joy Ann Reid addressed the kind of pervasive beliefs held by some law enforcement officials that seems to be driving this unnecessary aggression among the ranks of civilian police.

It is crucial for city, state and federal leaders to take proactive steps to address this aggression.  Implementing police hiring and training practices that focus on non-confrontation and the service part of civilian policing along with community engagement are good starting points for preventing more needless deaths. As voters, we can help move our communities towards this vision this November by supporting candidates who have a track record of implementing programs that promote positive relationships between the local police and the communities that they serve. We can also lend our time to initiatives that partner residents with law enforcement to help better police neighborhoods and foster improved relationships between law officials and citizens.

We all have a role to play in changing the narrative between police and communities of color. Supporting candidates who will prioritize safe communities and engage local residents in the process is crucial to realizing this change.

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Ayanna Pressley
At Large Boston City Council Member
Boston, Massachusetts


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