Almost three decades ago, a jury acquitted four Los Angeles policemen — three of them white — of the savage beating of Rodney King, an African American man. Sadly, race relations since then are largely unchanged. Video recordings of attacks and murders appear more frequently than 30 years ago, with rogue police officers and self-appointed vigilantes from Georgia to California staining the character of America.
Law enforcement’s reliance on paramilitary training has led to a confrontational style, which white, middle-class people seldom experience, and which unfailingly alienates minorities and low-income Americans. This disparity hampers our ability to improve race relations.
Making matters worse is the rhetoric of some national leaders, who suggest using violent, extremist measures in response to disturbances on the streets of Minneapolis and other cities. Already traumatized by the twin pandemic and economic crises, Americans now face civil unrest and violence in the streets of their cities, abetted and made worse by polarizing, racist rants.
What we need today are level-headed leaders to assure justice will be served, and the safety of the public will be maintained. In the long run, we must continue to combat racism and promote justice for all our citizens. If we don’t get such leadership now, we surely will on Election Day.
Thomas A. Sapp, Jr
Chair, Brunswick County Democratic Party