Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the Dallas Police Officers: What We Can Do

What We Can Do

By RoomZoom Editorial Staff

After last week’s events, many of us are feeling paralyzed, powerless, and searching for answers. Here are what a few black leaders have suggested as positive actions to take:

Writer Ijeoma Oluo spelled out how we can use our civic power a local level:

“Police reform is local, and you have more power in local government than anywhere else in the US electoral system.

A quick Google search of your city’s police accountability procedures can help you identify areas for improvement. For example: Does your police force have a citizen review process? Body cameras? External review of misconduct? Your mayor and city council are responsible for working with police to get these changes made — and they need your support to remain in office. Call them, email them. Demand that your local representatives make fair policing and an equitable criminal justice system a priority.

Don’t wait until there is a body in the street. Do it now to save lives.”

To answer Oluo’s questions:

1. Yes, the NYPD has a Citizen Review Process.
2. Yes, the NYPD has body cameras, but they are rolling out just 1,000 this summer in a force that includes 34,000 uniformed officers (The largest municipal police force in the country and in size, the world’s seventh largest army).
3. And yes, the NYPD has an external review process.

NBA player Carmelo Anthony expressed dismay via Instagram, and then made an explicit plea to his fellow athletes, one that we can all follow:

“I’m calling for all my fellow ATHLETES to step up and take charge. Go to your local officials, leaders, congressman, assemblymen/assemblywoman and demand change. There’s NO more sitting back and being afraid of tackling and addressing political issues anymore. Those days are long gone. We have to step up and take charge. We can’t worry about what endorsements we gonna lose or whose going to look at us crazy. I need your voices to be heard. We can demand change. We just have to be willing to. THE TIME IS NOW. IM all in. Take Charge. Take Action. DEMAND CHANGE. Peace7”

Writer Charles Blow noted that violence and anger are easy in these times, but the harder and more worthwhile pursuit is that of basic empathy:

“When we all can see clearly that the ultimate goal is harmony and not hate, rectification and not retribution, we have a chance to see our way forward. But we all need to start here and now, by doing this simple thing: Seeing every person as fully human, deserving every day to make it home to the people he loves.”

And on All In With Chris Hayes, Black Lives Matter founder Alicia Garza offered the valuable reminder that demanding accountable policing and grieving the loss of innocent lives in Dallas are not contradictory acts:

“We can, at the same time as we grieve the loss of life of several officers who were killed last night, push to demand that there be accountable, responsive, transparent policing that has oversight from communities and that is accountable to the communities they are supposed to protect and serve.”

Click here for reflections from the RoomZoom team.