Mothers across the country are taking to the streets to demand accountability and change in American policing that criminalizes African Americans regardless of actual crimes committed. The deplorable failure of a grand jury to indict Officer Darren Wilson for killing unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown is just the latest evidence that the system is beyond broken.
No mother should have to worry that her son could be killed just because of the color of his skin by the very people charged to protect and serve.
9to5 and our members echo the sentiments eloquently expressed this week by MSNBC commentator Melissa Harris-Perry in her letter to Michael's mom, Lesley McSpadden:
This week, along with you, we were broken as we learned that a grand jury found no crime in the killing of your son, Michael. I cannot speak for all black mothers, but I want you to know that many of us felt your anguish through the screen, felt it penetrate our core and break our hearts as we bore witness to your shock and torment. I want you to know: Your son's life did matter. No decision by any jury, anywhere, can ever change that truth.
As we continue to stand in protest this week and in the weeks to come, we say it loudly, and we say it clearly: Black lives matter.
As Isabel Wilkerson, the author of The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, wrote on TheGuardian.com:
Even though white Americans outnumber black Americans fivefold, black people are three times more likely than white people to be killed when they encounter the police in the US, and black teenagers are far likelier to be killed by police than white teenagers.
The U.S. Department of Justice has the power to arrest and prosecute Wilson under federal civil-rights laws. It can step in where Missouri prosecutors and politicians have failed. It also has broad authority to prohibit racial profiling by law enforcement, authority that we must demand that it use immediately. We must push Congress to act in the name of Michael Brown and the many others who have been killed at the hands of police officers to pass the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA) now.
While no one piece of legislation could have prevented the tragedy in Ferguson, ERPA would:
- Ban discriminatory profiling by law enforcement at all levels.
- Provide provisions for data collection and monitoring.
- Include enhanced and funded training on racial profiling.
- Provide for sanctions and remedies for violations of the law.
The time for drastic and sweeping change is now. Racial injustice has far-reaching impacts for all of us in this country; police brutality, economic inequality, mass incarceration, opportunity denied, and communities divided are not who we are as people and should not define who we are as a nation. We must do better. Together we can do better. Take action now.