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George Floyd is a name we all know now, for all the wrong reasons. It is a name we will know for the rest of our lives. He was a victim of police brutality. For more than eight minutes, a police officer crushed his windpipe with his knee. George Floyd died. And the pain of his death will never be forgotten.
Sometimes those in power abuse their power. The power given to police officers, the training given to police officers and the protection given to police officers is too often hurting the very people they’re sworn to protect. They are the people who gave the police their power and trusted them with it.
All lives don’t seem to matter to the police. They disproportionately kill Black and brown Americans. The exercise of undue and excessive force against Black and brown Americans (and against those who dare to stand with them) should be criminal, by definition of the law.
We all know this isn’t new. Racism didn’t end with the emancipation proclamation. Racism didn’t end with the civil rights movement. Racism didn’t end with the election of Barack Obama. How are the police going to find the humanity that white society doesn’t extend toward Black Americans?
We’ve let this happen. We’ve implicitly told the police that killing someone based on the color of their skin is somehow acceptable in this country.
Look at where that attitude has gotten us. The hate that white people throw at Black Americans too often causes death and suffering. Racism is the Achilles heel of the American dream, and white Americans all play a part in making sure racism continues. We are destroying our own country, our home, with our own hate.
No wonder the police are doing the same. Standing up and protecting your community is not for the faint of heart. It’s a job that tests your strength, courage and compassion, and many officers show these traits and protect and serve all people. These officers are in our state and out of it.
But right now, we’re seeing too much pain and injustice at the hands of the police. It’s becoming increasingly hard to remember that the primary objective of the police is not to hurt the people of the United States.
We can demilitarize the police. We can reform the prison systems. These are worthy goals, and they should be considered necessary by everyone who calls themselves an American, by everyone who loves this country, no matter the political party. But in order for us to be truly successful, white society has to stop abusing and oppressing our fellow Americans: brown Americans, queer Americans, immigrant Americans and especially Black Americans. We must become actively anti-racist. When the people stop the suffering and take responsibility for our society’s mistakes, then the police will follow suit.
Josie Czuj of Sedgwick is a high school student.