We have each been sickened by the video of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of the Minneapolis police officers last week. From Mr. Floyd’s family, to his community, to public officials, to crowds of protesters in cities across the U.S. and as far away as Berlin, people are calling for accountability and a stop to the police brutality that has victimized the Black community.
We join those voices.
The number of incidents where Black people, usually men, have been harassed, injured, or lost their lives after interactions with law enforcement is large, disturbing, and undeniable. It also cuts close to home. To give just one example, protesters in Tucson and Phoenix for the past several days have called not only for police accountability for the killing of George Floyd, but also Dion Johnson, an unarmed 26-year-old black man who was shot by an Arizona Department of Public Safety officer in the early hours of May 25th, where he was allegedly sleeping in his car.
We have also been disturbed by videos and reports showing journalists being targeted by police in the recent protests.
When we continue to turn a blind eye to state-sponsored violence, we lose our moral authority to condemn any violence.
As members of the Arizona House Judiciary Committee, we know that the Legislature could make a difference by enacting legislation to combat police misconduct. Such legislation must provide for serious reviews and improvements to police training that includes meaningful cultural competency training, disciplinary and termination policies for officers found guilty of misconduct, and citizen oversight boards that have real authority to hold departments accountable.
Together with our colleagues in the State House and Senate we are actively working on legislative solutions.
We will keep you updated. For now, this appears to be a defining moment when the broader public is finally becoming aware of the racist violence at the hands of law enforcement that has been so devastating to our brothers and sisters in the Black community.
We cannot turn away from these hard truths as our country has so many times before. It is up to all of us, especially white Americans, to commit ourselves to unlearning the racism all around us so we can dismantle it in our institutions.
Representative Kirsten Engel
Representative Domingo DeGrazia