A $20 bill?

By now, you’ve seen the footage of the unspeakable murder of George Floyd as police tried to apprehend him over an alleged counterfeit $20 bill.

A $20 bill.

And for that, a man lost his life.

You almost want to say “I can’t watch”…but we must. We cannot stay silent and we cannot put our heads in the sand when it seems that being black in itself is a crime in this country. As a paramedic, I cannot comprehend how long it took for Emergency Medical Services to be called in. Every second counts during a medical incident. But by the time they arrived, first responders said that Floyd had no pulse and was unresponsive. They tried but there was likely little that could have been done. And as they noted, they always need permission from the police to intervene.

The protests that have taken place across the country highlight the fact that in these years after Martin Luther King, civil rights protests, Rodney King, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, and far too many others–little has changed in our law enforcement system for people of color in this country. From Minneapolis to Los Angeles to DC, Americans are expressing their profound hurt, anger, and disappointment over what happened to George Floyd and what happens to people all over the country due to the color of their skin.

Racism is an open wound in America, and more words or tiny band-aids won’t fix it. Institutional racism has to be boldly excised wherever it exists, and we need comprehensive reform to our entire law enforcement system, including things like the use of excessive force, police corruption, search and seizure, civil asset forfeiture, and changes in the drug laws that disproportionately impact so many people of color. Whether it’s Minneapolis, Oceanside, or any city across the country, we need Community Policing and improved relationships between the public and law enforcement–and true reform will not come without accountability for incidents like this.

As George Floyd’s family has said, the arrest of now-fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is “a welcome but overdue step on the road to justice.” Prosecutors insist that investigations are ongoing against the remaining former officers who were involved in the incident, and the family is calling for first-degree murder charges for Chauvin.

Would charges have come had the people not protested? How could this have been prevented? Were there, as has been alleged, police officers who instigated or participated in the destruction of property? What training did the officers involved receive, and are all officers getting the necessary education on de-escalation, anti-bias, and cultural awareness? Why were so many previous incidents involving Chauvin overlooked? These are the tough questions we need to ask as we look back at what has happened and all of the facts emerge.

But we do not need more facts to make a determination as to what happened on video, in broad daylight, in front of other officers and members of the public who were filming and telling officers that they were killing a man.

The family deserves justice and our communities deserve real change, not more lip service. And we can’t keep electing the same people if we want to fix this.

This incident isn’t a city-specific problem–it’s a national one. But we must look at it both locally and nationally as we move forward to try to fix what is so very broken in our society that allows this to keep happening. I’m running for Mayor of Oceanside because I believe that we can make meaningful change right now with leaders who have experience in public safety and the political will to make the tough choices.

As always, I want to hear from you and welcome your thoughts on how we can improve our communities to ensure that it is a safe place for all.

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