[Editor’s note: This letter was dated July 11.]
As elected officials of color, we join you and the nation in the overwhelming feelings of sadness and outrage over the violence that occurred over the past week in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Falcon Heights, Minnesota; and Dallas, Texas. We offer our prayers and deepest condolences to each family and community affected by this violence. We also recognize the hard work of our police force that remains at the forefront of community policing.
Over the past two years, and most visibly in the last week, our country has grappled with the issue of racial inequality in policing. Last week, while addressing the nation, President Obama reminded us that the incidents in Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, and now Dallas, happen far too often and are not isolated. We agree with our President when he says:
“To admit we’ve got a serious problem in no way contradicts our respect and appreciation for the vast majority of police officers who put their lives on the line to protect us every single day. It is to say that, as a nation, we can and must do better to institute the best practices that reduce the appearance or reality of racial bias in law enforcement.”
Vigils and rallies cannot address this problem alone. While there is a place for these important gatherings, verbal expressions of solidarity in grief are not enough. We need action now in the form of concrete policy changes.
At the city level, implementing body cameras, implicit bias training for officers, civilian review boards, and funding trauma supports can help to address the systemic racial inequities we face today. At the state level, these inequities can be addressed by ending racial profiling, updating law enforcement training, certification, and data collection; establishing special prosecutors for police-involved shootings; amending wire-tapping statue to empower citizen watchdogs; and comprehensive criminal justice reforms that re-invests in job training and drop-out prevention services.
We immediately call on Governor Baker, Senate President Rosenberg, Speaker DeLeo, and the Mayors of the Commonwealth to join with President Obama and us in advancing these and other actions to end these inequities and injustices.
Each generation is called to address the issues of its time. One of the most pervasive issues of our time is addressing the relationship between police and our communities. We cannot afford to wait any longer.
Our country’s history has shown that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. Let us accomplish this together.
Register Felix D. Arroyo, Suffolk County
Councilor Andrea Campbell, Boston District 4
Representative Evandro Carvalho, 5th Suffolk
Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, 2nd Suffolk
Representative Marcos Devers, 16th Essex
Senator Linda Dorcena-Forry, 1st Suffolk
Representative Gloria Fox, 7th Suffolk
Representative Carlos Gonzalez, 10th Hampden
Representative Russell Holmes, 6th Suffolk
Councilor Tito Jackson, Boston District 7
Representative Frank Moran, 17th Essex
Councilor Ayanna Pressley, Boston At-Large
Representative Byron Rushing, 9th Suffolk
Representative Benjamin Swan, 11th Hampden
Sheriff Steven Tompkins, Suffolk County
Representative Jose Tosado, 9th Hampden
Representative Aaron Vega, 5th Hampden
Councilor Michelle Wu, Boston Council President