Some of the current proposals may deserve consideration but they would have greater long-term impact and meaning if they improve transparency within the criminal justice system more generally and are not limited to cases just involving police.
During these last two years, #JusticeForEthan has evolved from the demand for answers regarding one man's death to the rallying cry focused on the need for change. Despite all that has been lost -- and it is far too much -- there is now a spotlight on where changes need to come.
Since December 3rd, I have returned to the streets because having a voice in the justice system is not sufficient either. In solidarity with my angered peers, I lean on the unofficial fourth branch of government that has the final say: collective civil society.
Passage of this bill would replace the secretive grand jury process with a special prosecutor/open court, probable cause inquiry that would help restore trust in our justice system, while ensuring a fair process for all parties.
We have come to a very dangerous point in our history. The protests will only intensify. The American public will be paying much closer attention from both sides of the polarization. The problems are complex and multi-layered. The police force is merely acting as the tip-of-the-spear.
We cannot wait months for the legislature to act. We can, and must, act now. Existing state law authorizes the governor to supersede any local district attorney on any criminal matter by appointing the attorney general to investigate and prosecute the case.
Can we as a society cut through the vail and begin to know and understand those different from ourselves, to have the ability to walk in the shoes of another, to break down these "us" versus "them" notions that separate?
We cannot allow Eric Garner's sadly prophetic next words, "It stops today," to refer only to his life. It is past time that we admit what so many have known for too long: That all too often, our justice system simply is not just.
While much of the protests revolving around Ferguson and Staten Island now revolve around race, there is an even more troubling dynamic and that is the perversion of the legal system in both instances to trust itself.
Did Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo receive special or unorthodox treatment from prosecutors that resulted in the return of a "no bill"? It's difficult to answer this question because the grand juries handling both of these investigations met behind closed doors.
There's no feigned shock. No forced surprise or mild disappointment. Just thick air. Deafening silence. And the weight of generations of false hope of equality sitting on my chest, on my shoulders, preventing me from breathing.
In cases such as Eric Garner, we must look beyond the badge. If the forearm cutting off Mr. Garner's air passages belonged to a man with any other professional occupation he would face consequences in the court of law.
What's going on when some police officers escalate violence instead of calming it? Why would a professionally trained cop panic and kill when he could disable the person he sees as threatening? How are law-enforcement officers recruited?