Former Officer Derek Chauvin Convicted on Murder Charges, the Fight for Police Reform Continues
By Players Coalition
Like so many following this trial, we applaud today’s verdict. We must also recognize that we have so much more to do. In 2020 there were only 18 days where police did not kill someone. Police are only convicted of murder less than one percent of the time they are brought to trial, and they are rarely brought to trial. While today is a small step towards justice for George Floyd, we need to see the same level of accountability for those who killed Daunte Wright and countless others. This verdict will not bring the systemic change America badly needs. There is still so much work to be done as we continue the fight for accountability in policing. We must continue to demand robust and massive solutions, or there will soon be another George Floyd.
The solutions below are good places to start fighting for change. We must:
Adopt immediate interventions to change policing. Just like you would have in an emergency room when there is an incoming trauma, we need immediate interventions to policing. We have had enough committees, studies, and pleas for long-term training improvements. People lose their lives while we talk. Researchers across the country have identified a variety of interventions and we must implement them immediately.
Change what police are allowed to do. First, police traffic stops for infractions can end in extreme violence, and inflict daily injustices on our Black and brown communities who are disproportionately stopped and searched nationwide. These pretextual stops don’t improve safety and do not result in meaningfully increased findings of guns, drugs, or other contraband. We must end them. If someone makes an illegal left turn or has tinted windows, police can send them a ticket.
Secondly, police should not be responding to mental health crises or issues that arise from homelessness or substance use disorders. Police aren’t trained to handle those cases, social workers are. So often, these situations end with police causing harm. There are places in this country that have substituted social workers in place of police and the communities have gotten safer.
Lastly, police should not be in schools. They do not improve safety there. The numbers are clear: police in schools disproportionately arrest and discipline Black children. Kids need counselors, not police.
Increase accountability and meaningful consequences. There is no meaningful accountability for police that cause harm in this country. Police who shoot and kill unarmed citizens face few consequences, and so do those who repeatedly engage in unconstitutional stop-and-frisk practices against Black people. There are a few ways to change that. We need to end the protective arbitration clauses that exist in police union contracts. We need to eliminate the portions of those contracts that preclude investigators from talking to officers who cause harm for 72 hours after they commit a shooting. We need to end qualified immunity. We need to pressure mayors and county executives to appoint police chiefs committed to firing officers with a record of using force and making racist stops before those officers cause deadly harm.
Elect officials who believe in police accountability. We need to focus on mayors who appoint police chiefs, pay attention to sheriffs races, and push to elect prosecutors who are unafraid to stand up against law enforcement backlash. These are often low-turnout elections, and your vote can have an enormous effect on the outcome of these races. We must elect officials who value the types of change we are demanding.
Count the effect of mass incarceration and police brutality when we decide what policies will keep us safe. Mass incarceration and policing cause enormous physical and psychological harm for certain communities — especially Black and brown ones. These systems create enormous threats to public safety. People are afraid to seek protection from the police. Incarceration creates recidivism and there are long-term negative economic effects. Racist policing makes people more likely to take the law into their own hands. Notwithstanding these well-documented safety costs, we consistently separate out the harm caused by mass incarceration and policing from conversations on how we should police and punish, erasing those costs from the ledger. That means we end up with more policing and more prosecution. When we think about how to keep communities safe, and where we should invest our money, we need to think about the serious implications of investing only in policing and mass incarceration.
If we do not make swift and massive changes, and seriously adjust our cost-benefit analysis, these flawed systems will continue to flourish, and countless lives will be lost. We must act now, but also remain committed for the long haul. We must demand police accountability while pushing to change the power structures that have for too long emboldened harmful behavior. We can bring about a better tomorrow, but it will take all of us in the fight.
Players Coalition is structured as an independent 501(c)(3) (charity) and 501(c)(4) (advocacy) organization, working with professional athletes, coaches and owners across leagues to improve social justice and racial equality in our country.