Since its inception and throughout its history, our nation has often fallen short of its lofty founding ideals including liberty and equity, and justice for all. Racial violence and discrimination is this country’s original injustice—and systemic racism its crippling legacy. Each generation has struggled to expand civil rights and human dignity. We should recognize those sacrifices by acknowledging that there has been progress made—a great deal of it.
The painful shortcomings of our institutions—including policing—are reflective of that long arc that we are bending toward justice. It is now our historic opportunity to add our generation’s contributions to the perfection of our society. George Floyd’s murder displayed the depth of disregard for life by some police officers and brought to public view the repeated abuse that is usually unseen or disbelieved. It is time for our institutions and their agents to represent our contemporary values, our demographics, and our elevated standards. This will not happen without great effort. We must now hire, train, track, support, oversee, review, discipline and augment the police function to be compatible with humane and contemporary sensibilities.
The anniversary of George Floyd’s murder should obligate us to take stock of our progress, or lack thereof, on legislation like that which bears his name—the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. We must redouble the urgency with which we work. Progress must be reported frequently as we persist in our efforts for nationwide restrictions on the most egregious policing practices and the modernization of law enforcement.