One of the saddest things about reading the stories and watching the videos of Keith Lamont Scott and Terence Crutcher is that this type of event is no longer shocking to many of us. There is a systemic issue of racism and using excessive force in police forces throughout North America. And this is not a simple issue to solve. However, there are things that you can do to help promote change and the families of those suffering from these tragedies.
1. Join a Protest or Activist Group
One of the most active things that you can do is get out there. Attend protest events and make your voice heard. While there has been some violence associated with recent protests, most of the people working with activist groups want to find a peaceful solution that will both help to protect good police officers as well as citizens and create consequences for those officers who take the lives of others due to excessive force. Research the policies and past events of a group before you decide to join to make sure they align with your beliefs and will find the most effective ways possible to get their message out to those that have the power to make positive change.
2. Donate to a Group of Family
If you’re not the type of person that feels comfortable going out into the streets to be part of a protest, you can still help to fund the efforts of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement within your own city. Most major cities throughout North America now have a chapter of this movement and accept donations. This money will usually go towards lobbying politicians to encourage them to make real changes within the local police force and throughout the country.
You might also choose to donate to help the families of one of the victims of police brutality. Many of the people who have been killed have been from lower income communities that could use help paying for funeral costs and to help their families pay their bills while they are dealing with this tragedy. Usually you can find a donation page attached to articles written about the victims.
3. Get Involved in Local Politics
Many of the people who are responsible for reforming police forces and making sure that they are being held accountable for their actions are elected officials. Local counselors, mayors, judges and prosecuting attorneys have the power to make positive change and you have part of the responsibility of putting the right people in power. Get to know what is happening in your own community when it comes to law enforcement and vote accordingly. Also, take the time to write to your current representatives to let them know that this is an issue that is important to you and will help to determine your future votes.
4. Report and Record If You See Police Violence
We all know that even well meaning police officers can be intimidating, and we have witnessed videos where officers tried to stop people from recording footge that would hold some officers accountable for their actions. But, you should remember that you have the right to record what you see when it comes to police interactions with citizens. This is also a political matter, as some state and local governments are trying to restrict citizen’s right to record.
5. Speak Up
One of the easiest and most straightforward things that you can do to help end police brutality is to speak up with your friends and neighbors about these issues. There are many misconceptions about the roots of this problem and how widespread this violence is throughout North America. Get informed so that you can speak opening and honestly about these issues and don’t shy away from this difficult topic. The more we speak up, the more people will be ignited to fight for real change.