Opening ReMARCs – From Unrest to Lasting Change: Repairing Police Interactions

Communities, Police Can Repair Fractured Relationships

By Marc Morial

President & CEO, National Urban league

“It’s naïve to think we will fix the system in three months, when it has been broken all the way back to Jim Crow. But there was a time when this kind of process wouldn’t have even started. Just 150 years ago, a black person would have been killed with no repercussion. Now people of all colors are realizing that there are systemic issues that must be addressed.” – Rev. R.A. Vernon, Cleveland

This week in Cleveland, the U.S. Justice Department unveiled a sweeping blueprint to address excessive force and racial bias within the Cleveland Police Department. The consent decree follows a two-year investigation which uncovered abuses including officers shooting at suspects without justification and battering handcuffed prisoners.

Such reviews are either underway or have recently concluded in communities across the nation, and the sad findings paint a grim picture. In Ferguson, MO, the Justice Department found that police routinely violated the constitutional rights of people of color. In Baltimore, where a review has just begun, authorities describe a “fractured” relationship between police and the community.

The National Urban League’s 10-Point Plan for Police Reform and Accountability recommends many of the reforms included in the Cleveland consent decree, including review and revision of deadly force policies and comprehensive racial bias training. Our fervent hope is that the unrest of the last two years has presented an historic opportunity for lasting change.