When Barrack Obama was elected in 2008 most white Americans believed that racism has become an ‘afterthought;’ they were wrong. Move ahead to 2016. The election of a white supremacist encouraged fascist, hate groups like the KKK, the Aryan Brotherhood, the “Boogaloo Bois,” and the Proud Boys to crawl out from under their rocks, and slither from the slime in swamps and cesspools. With a leader in the White House, they feel emboldened to spread their hate speech and incite violence.
Let’s be perfectly clear about the base reason for the current protests. You might believe that the murder of black American men and women is a relatively new phenomena; you would be very wrong.
The same things we all see thanks to the fact that everyone has a camera today, occurred when I was a young man growing up in Los Angeles in the 50’s and 60’s. The only difference is, they weren’t televised. Racism among law enforcement and in our courts is far more rampant than our government, or the mainstream media would like you to know.
After a new law was implemented allowing “qualified immunity,” and upheld by the Supreme Court in 1967, police and sheriff’s departments knew that they had a free hand to act as they pleased. If you talk to any black man or woman, each of them will have tales of harassment by law enforcement to tell you.
Fifteen years after that Supreme Court decision, another Court declared: “The protection afforded to public officials would no longer turn on whether the official acted in “good faith.” Instead, even officials who violate peoples’ rights maliciously will be immune unless the victim can show that his or her right was “’clearly established’.” To put it bluntly, in 1982 the Supreme Court of the United States gave America’s law enforcement agencies the right to maim and even murder black Americans.
Add to this fact our nation’s police unions. Clauses agreed to by city and state officials gave union members even more liberties to use physical force against whoever they might encounter, without fear of punishment.
Finally, the right-wing is going bonkers over some signs which say, “defund the police.” Let’s stop the hyperbole. The issue is not to eliminate all law enforcement, it is to end funding for military weapons and gear, and re-purpose that money into programs which will improve our communities and relations between law enforcement and all Americans.
All real Americans are supporting black Americans in their cause to move our country towards a respected and revered nation. If racism can be extinguished in America, the United States may some day become a “great country.”
Op-ed by James Turnage
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