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Henry A. J. Ramos Headshot

A Nation Divided; A Call to Action

Posted: Updated:

2014-09-02-488694_PoliceShootingMissouri25CourtesyAP.jpg
Photo courtesy of the Associated Press

The past several weeks have seen a sad and all-too-familiar scene replayed in American society -- the senseless killing of a young man of color at the hands of a white police officer and the revelation of deep continuing racial disparities in U.S. law enforcement and society at large. The events just played out in Ferguson, Missouri remind us that our nation's work to bridge historic racial and economic divides is far from finished.

This trying moment represents another opportunity to reexamine how our country's policing efforts are carried out, and to consider how we as a people want to maintain order and justice in America. Without community peace and stability, without trusting relations between all of our diverse communities and law enforcement professionals, there can be no fairness or progress in the broader economy that anchors the opportunity we all seek as Americans, whatever our background or orientation.

We are called now to refocus our efforts and channel the intense emotional responses we all have had relative to this tragedy toward imagining a new way to design and approach law enforcement systems. We must not simply react within the context of "the way things have always been done." Rather, we need to rally as a community of concerned citizens to urge new approaches in deed as well as in word.

In response to this call to action, the Insight Center has recently signed on to support an important Open Letter to President Obama that our close allies and friends Angela Glover Blackwell of PolicyLink and Maya Rockeymoore of the Center for Global Policy Solutions have recently drafted and widely circulated. That letter, signed now by many of the nation's most significant social justice leaders and organizations, offers an essential appeal to the nation's chief executive, and indeed to all responsible opinion leaders. With this writing, I urge you to review and support this important and timely public statement.

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Henry A. J. Ramos is CEO of the Insight Center for Community Economic Development.