There’s no magic button to stop injustice against black and brown people in America. Economic empowerment and strategic divestment, protests, information sharing, and politics all play a role. Many are focused on the national race for president, but local elections affect our everyday lives on a much more intimate level.
As it relates to the injustice and police brutality that is heavy on the hearts and minds of us all in the black community, prosecutors hold the keys to accountability. When people try and compare black-on-black crime (or white-on-white crime) to police shootings, remind them that the issue is accountability. If a black person shoots or kills another black person, they’re going to jail. Police, no matter the circumstances, tend to walk away with a lengthy vacation (a.k.a. paid administrative leave) and a slap on the wrist, before returning to the streets.
Accountability, without a doubt, would immediately start to turn these tragedies around. When, not if, we start to elect prosecutors that are willing to indict police officers and treat them as any citizen would be treated in cases of brutality and homicide, the rogue cops who make the good cops look bad, will stop what they’re doing – or at least think twice before rolling up on a 12 or 13-year-old black boy and shooting them within a couple of seconds. When, not if, we decide to elect prosecutors that won’t allow police officers to be judge, jury, and executioner of black people, while they peacefully apprehend white people who are armed and actually pose an imminent threat, things will turn around.
With the recent police killing of 13-year-old Tyre King fresh on the minds of many, we used a Police Accountability Tool to compare the rate at which police shoot black people in several cities with recent high- profile cases. We found that the rate in Columbus, Ohio where both Tyre King and 23-year-old Henry Green were shot and killed this summer, was highest on our list.
Voters in Columbus have the opportunity to vote in a prosecutor who is committed to justice and accountability without bias. There is a 3-way race, between the current prosecutor, the city council president, and Green Party attorney and activist, Dr. Bob Fitrakis. The current county prosecutor, republican Ron O’Brien, is in his 20th year and has never indicted an officer for a police-involved shooting. The other opponent, Zach Klein, is running as a democrat, but his past shows years of republican activity (columbusfreepress.com). More concerning than trying to erase his past is the fact that he has never been a trial lawyer!
Vote your conscience, not the lesser evil, this election cycle. Learn more about your local candidates. Be careful not to fall for the trap that all Democrats are interested in the preservation of black lives. Democratic prosecutors Bob McCulloch (Ferguson) and Tim McGinty (Cleveland) made that fact very clear with non-indictments for the officers who killed Mike Brown and Tamir Rice. Do you have the opportunity to elect a prosecutor in your area that will help turn the tide? Columbus, Ohio does…
We must fight back for justice!
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