Violence inflicted by white men, especially law enforcement officers, against people with less privilege, especially their domestic partners and African Americans, also requires some deep changes to address deep problems. Particularly when people die in incidents related to police violence like George Floyd, painful experience has shown that the investigation procedures we already have are just not good enough. We need much less funding for police officers as we think of them now, and more for people like social workers & community advocates. For example, most car accident reports don’t need a person with a gun & an itchy trigger finger on the scene to take photos & fill out paperwork. Beyond overhauling the accountability after the fact (or lack thereof), we need to take measures to stop people from getting killed by police in the first place, like anti-racist training and not using deadly force first.
Being a design engineer by profession, that made me think of requiring all police guns have a less-lethal option attached to them, losing their “qualified immunity” if they don’t have body camera video showing that they used that BEFORE shooting bullets, or that there was an objectively good reason why the other option couldn’t have worked. A design popped into my head for how to mount pepper spray under a gun barrel, turns out somebody already makes that. So why don’t they use it?
“No-knock raids” like the one that killed Breonna Taylor need to be severely curtailed, and absolutely require body cameras for all the agents, have an ambulance waiting around the corner before they bust in, and be tied to substantially higher standards of liability for those authorizing them if the raid does not produce substantial evidence of the specific crimes alleged in the warrant. Before the raid, the officers should be searched by an independent authority to ensure nobody is carrying false evidence like drugs or a “drop gun” to justify the raid. Whoever signs off on it should pay for all the property damage from their own pocket, and go to jail plus pay a substantial settlement automatically if an innocent person is wounded or killed. When a homeowner like Kenneth Walker defends against what to them is indistinguishable from a violent home invasion and burglary, they should be assumed justified – he should never have seen the inside of a prison cell at all. If nobody is willing to accept that personal, individual risk, they shouldn’t be allowed to force the public to accept the risks associated with what happens when they’re wrong.
Vigilante injustice like what happened to Ahmaud Arbery and his murderers nearly getting away with it is also unacceptable, that will require cultural change to address. Holding those men publicly accountable and making an example of them is an important step, but not enough. My first thought is to require every elementary school student to have at least one Black teacher for a year before they get to the 6th grade – someone they will see in a role of authority, be required to respect & learn from, see that they aren’t dangerous. It will take time, but experiences like that from a young age stick with people. And if the teachers can show that they’re being paid less, disrespected, or otherwise mistreated by their white coworkers, they should be forced to have a Black principal for at least 5 years.
Racial minority members should be able to sue in federal court that their civil rights are being violated if a school board or town council or other governing body doesn’t have comparable racial diversity to the population is serves. For example, if the school board has 5 members and the population is 40% minority, there should be at least 2 members that aren’t White, and any structure with the result of an all White board is in violation, regardless of if they are all “at large” seats or elected by districts that are gerrymandered to have every district be majority White or any other means, judge the policy by its effects and order the necessary policy changes to negate the harms. Hold Congress to this standard too while we’re at it!
I’m not sure how to achieve those, it might take a Supreme Court ruling, but this gives you an idea of my sense of how justice should be served.