“We all, police included, bring various experiences with trauma into our communities. With that comes heightened suspicions of each other that can result in crazy stupid legislation like Law Enforcement Officer Bills of Rights, and the many-tiered, unfair and unequal, justice systems these unhelpful suspicions create.”
Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha dismisses community concerns over unnecessary violence in law enforcement as a perception problem he has to manage, rather than the cultural problem we all have a responsibility to improve. Such an attitude ensures the conflict festers and grows.
Neronha may know a lot about the law, but he’s demonstrating an arrogant lack of understanding – an active unwillingness and disappointing dearth of curiosity – of what constitutes societal trust, cohesion and restorative justice (buzz words I recall he ran on).
Watching power operate in this way I sometimes wonder if in the legacy of our colonial-capitalist structures, the “law” is mostly just how to manipulate words to defend corrupt cultures of oppression that cause widespread harm for the profit of a few.
I was not surprised to learn from Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj this year that Rhode Island is included among states with problematic Law Enforcement Officer Bill of Rights that create the very two-tier justice system Neronha is trying to gaslight out of existence. [See 15m22s below]
We need police services and prosecutors spending more energy on improving their codes of conduct, training practices and restorative justice procedures, and less time obsessing over their immunity to commit, and provide legal cover for, their violence to continue.
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For guidance on how to bring people together towards achieving this, Neronha would be wise to follow leadership of the recently elected District Attorney in San Francisco, Chesa Boudin:
“[My] job isn’t to hold grudges, isn’t to attack back, but rather to roll up my sleeves, sit down at the table with everybody who’s willing to talk, and be willing to listen to them, so we can rebuild the trust between our communities and the law enforcement that’s supposed to serve and protect those communities. If you look at the protests, if you look in the eyes of the parents of Alex Nieto and Mario Woods and other people who have been killed by police violence in San Francisco, it is clear that we have a tremendous amount of work to do to rebuild that trust. And I’m committed to doing it with everybody at the table.” [See 7m14s below]
More locally, an example of quality leadership can be found in Representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell’s, Community Response to Trauma initiative, bringing Rhode Islanders together to discuss and address converging crises including poverty and gun violence.
We all, police included, bring various experiences with trauma into our communities. With that comes heightened suspicions of each other that can result in crazy stupid legislation like Law Enforcement Officer Bills of Rights, and the many-tiered, unfair and unequal, justice systems these unhelpful suspicions create.
While I have immense faith in Representative Ranglin-Vassell’s abilities in bringing people together to address these crises, the initiative will be handicapped as long as Rhode Island has an Attorney General seemingly more committed to protecting police immunity to enact violence than he is to deliver community cohesion and societal trust.