Judge Greg Mathis: The killings of unarmed men of color by both police officers and security guards in the last two years are very troubling. As a member of the White House “My Brothers Keeper” task force, I and other task force members made recommendations to President Obama on how to reduce the disproportionate number of minority males affected by the criminal justice system, gun violence, and other challenges. Now, I want to make a public appeal.
There has been a rash of men of color killed by the police since the death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teen, killed by a neighborhood security guard.
The police misconduct and use of excessive force plaguing our country must stop–As should the gun violence we see in our communities against each other.
Before making our recommendations to the President, we studied some of the root causes of violence, contacts with the criminal justice system, as well as police misconduct and excessive force.
Below the surface of these issues, we found issues of false and negative stereotypes, such as black men are more prone to be violent, angry and engage in criminal activity. All of which are untrue. It was suggested that poverty, the denial of equal opportunity, and a failed education system, as well as a saturation of guns and drugs in our communities of color, are also major contributors to criminal activity and destructive behavior. No excuse, just real life factors.
We also observed that the negative interaction between law enforcement and communities of color promotes distrust on both sides. Something that could be addressed by legislation requiring police dash cameras, better police training, and the perception of police as protectors rather than provocateurs.
Whatever the causes and circumstances that exist, there is no excuse for the number of unjust police killings of unarmed black men, nor the rage of gun violence and destruction occurring in our communities. If it continues, we will have to ask the police and ourselves, am I my brother’s keeper, or am I my brother’s killer?