by Margaret Mitchell, President and CEO of YWCA Greater Cleveland
If All Lives Matter, then why are we so willing to remain silent when unarmed black Americans are shot by police?
I didn’t watch Megyn Kelly and I don’t know what Anderson Cooper said —I rarely watch the news—but I sat in my office on the morning of September 20 and watched the murder of a man with his hands held high in the air. Swarmed by police, hands in the air this man— Terence Crutcher—was killed.
I sat in my office and cried. I cried for his family and mine. I cried for law enforcement. I cried for our community and our country. We are paralyzed as we watch and wait for someone else to do something.
Just 9 months into 2016 and U.S. police have killed at least 194 black people according to a project by The Guardian that tracks police killings in America. That’s nearly 21 shootings a month; 5 shootings a week!
I believe police officers are responsible for upholding the law. But I also believe their role is about respecting and protecting the lives of all members of society, including black men and women. The jobs of police officers are difficult and I fully recognize that their jobs are dangerous daily. However, the shooting of people of color—mostly men and (far too often) young men—across the United States has highlighted a widespread reality of racially discriminatory treatment by law enforcement officers and an alarming use of lethal force.
Vanity Fair recently reported a significant amount of data about police and racial bias. A study by University of California, Davis stuck out to me. It found that the probability of being black, unarmed, and shot by police is, on average, about 3.49 times the probability of being white, unarmed, and shot by police.
I don’t know about you, but the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers raises serious human rights concerns. I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and the United States has a legal obligation to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights.
Human rights and human life rests on the badge of every officer. They are commissioned to protect life. Police officers are to use lethal force as a last resort in order to protect themselves or others from death or serious injury.
It’s time. We can take a stand, we can take a step, we can stop watching and we can do something.
The End Racial Profiling Act of 2015 (S. 1056/H.R. 1933) has been re-introduced in Congress and would nationally define and outlaw the practice of racial profiling by law enforcement. Stand Against Racism today and contact your Senators and your Representatives and tell them to: “End racial profiling, it destroys American values of fairness and justice. Please co-sponsor the End Racial Profiling Act of 2015 (S. 1056/H.R. 1933).”
Margaret Mitchell is President and CEO of YWCA Greater Cleveland. YWCA is on a mission to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families, and strengthen communities. For more information, visit ywcaofcleveland.org .