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The video of Tyre Nichols being brutally overwhelmed by Memphis police in early January is uniquely sickening. Nichols died three days later. Sadly, outrageously, police killing one other unarmed Black man is much from distinctive.
It could be doable for some Individuals — significantly, if not completely, white Individuals — to think about police brutality as some bygone injustice locked away within the black-and-white footage of outdated TV broadcasts. The present numbers, and the present proof we are able to all see with our personal eyes in movies like this one, clearly present that this isn’t the case.
In accordance with knowledge compiled by the Washington Submit, the variety of deadly police shootings elevated from 1,021 in 2020 to a minimum of 1,055 in 2021. This made 2021 the worst yr because the Submit began monitoring this knowledge in 2015. And in keeping with the nonprofit group Mapping Police Violence, Black Individuals are roughly thrice as prone to be killed by police than white Individuals. Shootings, beatings or in any other case, Black Individuals proceed to face a disproportionate quantity of police violence on this nation.
Nichols was a lot greater than a knowledge level on this nationwide shame. He was a father, a son, a brother, a skateboarder, a photographer. As described by somebody who knew him, Nichols was “such a superb spirit and soul and calm presence.”
You don’t must see the video to acknowledge the immense tragedy of his loss, or to acknowledge the way in which it’s a part of a longstanding nationwide development. Contemplate what Nichols’ brother, Jamal Dupree, instructed CNN this week about not watching the video.
“I already knew how they handled him as a result of I’ve seen it everywhere in the world,” Dupree mentioned. “Police brutality is nothing new. I already knew they handled my brother like an animal. They handled him like he was nothing. I don’t have to look at the video to know that.”
As we begin one other Black Historical past Month and as some political leaders cynically reject the educating of an African American historical past course, all of us should be prepared to confront the troublesome truths. And we should meet these truths with motion.
In too many situations, the painful and lethal inequalities of Black historical past in America are nonetheless Black actuality to this present day. The police beatings will not be a factor of the previous. Financial inequality just isn’t a factor of the previous.
And but we have now political leaders, like Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who attempt to inform us that educating an AP African American historical past course is by some means a part of a “political agenda.” It’s the elected officers attempting to forestall this studying, not the individuals educating it, who’re injecting politics into schooling.
And but we have now congressional leaders in each events who’ve failed for a number of years now to work by variations and attain settlement on police reform laws on the nationwide degree.
And but we have now congressional Republicans who don’t appear to suppose part 4 of the Voting Rights Act must be reauthorized, regardless of alarming exercise in state legislatures to restrict voting entry that plainly exhibits it does. These lawmakers would apparently have Individuals imagine that an necessary device for safeguarding minority rights on the voting sales space, in jurisdictions with a historical past of voter discrimination, is not wanted. This in flip permits for these rights to be put in jeopardy as soon as extra.
And but we have now dad and mom throughout the nation, together with right here in Maine, bringing e book ban and anti-critical race principle hysteria to highschool boards and legislatures. These efforts dangerously deal with distinction as deviance and important considering as some sort of management.
For all of the political posturing that goes on about America being an incredible nation, we all know this to be true: A fantastic nation wouldn’t commerce consolation for information. A fantastic nation would acknowledge that, till we take extra motion to cease this police violence — violence that disproportionately harms Black Individuals — it displays shamefully on all of us.