I'm sorry, but it is never too early to be discussing lessons. Especially not in the current world of ADD, where folks move on as soon as the headlines disappear. For me, the two primary lessons to learn are: own responsibility and get involved.
What. No rant about Muslim-haters, police cover-up, irresponsible media reporting? No. Well, some about the latter a bit later. But, no. Why? Because you can't change what you can't change. What you have to do is own responsibility for what you can change, and get involved to change it.
No-one has, or will ever have, the slightest notion of what goes on or was going on in the head of Craig Stephen Hicks. Almost nothing is served by trying to find out now. Of course it was a hate crime. The man hated. Does it really change one dot, tittle or iota of anything to have a long. unseemly, pointless debate about whether it was parking he hated, or Muslims?
You can not legislate the way people feel, including hatred. What you can do is legislate the way they demonstrate their feelings. And this man had been demonstrating feelings for yonks.
It is clear from recent police forums and from experiences shared by people of color in our communities that we have a serious problem with racial equity in policing in Orange County. The most recent example is a guest column by Stephanie Perry in Sunday’s Chapel Hill News (12/21/14). Perry serves with me on the board of Orange County Justice United. We heard other stories like this during the Carrboro community forum on policing in October.
Law enforcement behavior that is disproportionately affecting communities of color is unacceptable to me. It is especially troubling to see that these disparities exist in our communities regardless of how enlightened we think we are. I am cautiously optimistic about the steps I see the Carrboro and Chapel Hill Police Departments taking.
I'm going to be a little awkward. There is already a thread about the recent Carrboro and Chapel Hill Police Forums. I will be linking this post to that thread. But I want to set out (at boring length) what I have been advocating for since those Forums. And I don't want to clutter up the entirety of that other thread with my meanderings (as fascinating as I know you will find them!).
As the above link to the forums make clear, a number of us in Carrboro want the establishment of a Citizen's Task Force, to be given the responsibility thoroughly to review policing in Carrboro, and, if thought necessary, make recommendations. I have my own thoughts about what I would like such a Task Force to address. But my main purpose is to help to create the space where citizens of Carrboro may have the opportunity to ensure that the policing approach in their community has their consent.
I set out in more detail here why I think we need a Citizen's Task Force.
This coming Saturday (October 4) and next Monday (October 6), Chapel Hill Police and Carrboro Police respectively, along with representatives from their funding agencies, will be holding Public Forums, at which citizens will be invited to offer thoughts on the way they wish to be policed. I will be unable to attend the Carrboro Forum as I will be working. But I have written a letter to the organizers, a letter which is (amazingly) quite self-explanatory:
"Dear Carrboro Alderpeople, Chief Horton and David Andrews [Carrboro Town Manager],
I understand there is to be a Public Forum on Policing in Carrboro, held on October 6, at 7.00pm. I will not be able to attend, as much as I have expressed interest in this subject.
I am a shift worker, and like most shift workers, I need at least three weeks notice to be able to accommodate events to my work schedule.
In the wake of the President's call to re-examine the militarization of police in the US, I go one step further, and wonder if it is not time now actively to consider disarming front-line police officers?
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