It’s been a while since I posted anything. The main reason for that, aside from being busy, was simply that I knew what I wanted to post about, but had trouble collecting my thoughts as more aspects of this whole collected topic came to light. I am talking about the ongoing situation with the protests and other fallout from what happened in Ferguson, New York City, Cleveland, and many (far too many) other places.
I also went back and forth for some time on just what I wanted to say. Certainly, much (much) has already been said on these issues, and it’s not as if I actually have the power to effect change on any kind of significant scale. What good will adding my voice to the pile really do?
The answer may be, “none at all.” So, while originally I thought about trying to write something really eloquent and long and nuanced, I don’t think that’s going to happen. So instead I’ll just point to a couple of things that have happened recently, that I think are important and actually show some semblance of progress, and give me a bit of hope.
On the heels of this (which was incredible – look at all those people!), I stumbled on a couple of other developments that seem to indicate we might have actually learned something from all of this. That progress is actually being made.
First off, there’s this, which came as quite a surprise. Not only because it’s indicative of real progress, but also because… congress actually did something? Aside from bicker and talk about nonsense and waste time? That’s nothing short of shocking.
It’s only a step, of course, and the federal government stepping in and saying “change needs to happen and here is some change” won’t simply solve the problems of systemic, institutionalized racism, or the issues of police brutality and grossly inappropriate use of force. At every turn, police have escalated tension and violence – the exact opposite of what they are supposed to do – in response to protests which were sparked by their unjust actions in the first place. That’s not all going to simply go away overnight because of the government telling them change is needed. Nor does this address the issues of the grand jury proceedings that have taken place – certainly, the one in Ferguson was a joke, and prosecutor Robert McCulloch clearly did not want Wilson indicted, and even then, the problem still goes beyond that. Expecting prosecutors who regularly work closely with police officers to make cases to turn around and truly, zealously pursue indictments (let alone convictions) against those same officers is ludicrous.
But this is still significant. It’s still progress. And it really is one of those things that, when you stop and think about it, you realize it’s kind of weird that this wasn’t ALREADY the case. ALWAYS the case. Law enforcement agencies don’t have to compile and report statistics on those they kill – justified or not – to anyone? Why the hell not? Hopefully this new legislation is carried forward by the momentum from all the recent attention on this issue, and doesn’t fizzle out after several years as previous, similar legislation from 2000 did, according to the linked article. It’s interesting, too, that this really did happen “while no one was looking”, as the title purports – I have seen very little on this development from most mainstream media sources.
So it’s at least a good sign, as is this. The article refers to the restraining order itself as “temporary”, but again, it is a step in the right direction, as it acknowledges the fact that the police were in the wrong (on a number of levels) throughout the situation in Ferguson.
Hopefully this is all indicative of some kind of positive change coming out of these tragedies. Nothing can change what happened, but at least these are steps toward trying to change what happens going forward.