Yesterday’s protest in Dallas had been peaceful. I watched part of it last night, thinking that it was one I might have gone to, had I known about it and had it been closer for me to get to. It was heartbreaking to be constantly refreshing the news articles and Twitter and seeing the stories come in — stories of how police officers shielded civilians, of protesters helping the police — and the death toll rise.
Within a short span of each other, we’ve had the two largest domestic terror events since 9/11: for civilians in Orlando, for police officers in Dallas. Both stem from deep fissures in our society that we must no longer ignore, slipping back into complacency after the next news cycle. I don’t want brown people shot. I don’t want police shot. I don’t want LGBTQ* people shot. I don’t want anyone to be shot, really.
We need to set aside partisanship for the sake of the greater good. We need to examine the ways our society continues to systematically disenfranchise people of color, the poor, the disabled, and others. We need to reform our gun laws and regulations to make it harder for civilians to get access to weapons that can kill a lot of people in a short amount of time. We need to revise the training that police officers receive, making it more strenuous in order to weed out the “bad cops” who make all of the good police appear to be the enemy, and focus on bridging the gap between police forces and the communities they serve. We need to reconsider how police departments are funded and the ways quotas and Broken Windows policing are hurting our communities more than helping them. There is so much we need to do.
Above all, we need to listen to each other — with compassion, grace, and charity. We may never truly understand what it is like to be in another person’s shoes, but we can try. We can listen and we can care.
Yes, I want our presidential candidates to address all of these issues, and more. But I also want our senators and representatives at both the state and federal levels to speak up, too. That’s where we come in. Let our voices BE represented. Contact your representatives. It doesn’t have to be a long, eloquent letter with arguments and counter-arguments. Just ask them, “What are you going to do about continued police violence against people of color? What are you going to do about repairing the damage of violence against police? I want you to focus on these things: the reduction of violence, the support of the poor, and the establishment of justice for people of all colors, religions, and sexual orientation.”
It’s time to stop feeling helpless and do something, however small it might seem.
There are many links to find your elected officials. Here are a couple of them:
Photo: Protest graffiti in Oxford, England.