Letter to the Editor
I wrote perhaps three years ago to my U.S. senators. Since then, one was literally hounded from office by multiple accusers claiming he was a serial groper. The other is currently a candidate for the presidency in 2020.
To be fair, I don’t recall if I got a “form” email back from either or both senators—I do know neither addressed the issue I raised at the national level. That issue was and is police brutality.
Not just police brutality as a function of generalized policing. I know that excessive police force affects the “larger community.” I know because for the better part of the last 25 years or more, I handled police misconduct cases in state and federal courts here in the upper Midwest.
And while I know that Whites, both male and female, are all too often victimized by unprofessional or brutal police acts, the most egregious instances of police misconduct are those faced by Black Americans and, specifically, African American men.
Many of these nationally reported instances, as our widespread access to video recordings now show, result in serious injuries; some seemingly unprovoked; with some leading to a fatal conclusion.
My communication to my senators was to urge them to begin to seek congressional hearings on this issue. The paradigm and historical analogy that is closest to this problem of police use of illegal or excessive force, including deadly force, would be to recall the days when Black Americans were killed extra-legally by lynchings. And in that era, there was a national call to address this scourge.
The deaths of Black Americans in suspicious or outright brutal circumstances has now become nauseatingly prevalent, yet we can count the number of officers who have been charged with crimes based on the deaths of Black Americans on our left hand. They are as rare as people carrying transistor radios in an age of bluetooth.
Yet, even now we see two dozens worth of Democratic presidential candidates, several from the U.S. Senate, a few from the House, and at least one Midwestern mayor. Yet none, to my knowledge, have called for a national forum to discuss this problem. None have called for congressional hearings or held a town hall on this “de jure” violence against African Americans that is always met with de facto blindness.
The major Senate and midterm elections should teach all Americans, especially Democrats, one thing about the nature of the 21st century American electorate: Democrats do not win without Black voter turnout.
Perhaps, the silence of the Democratic candidates on the issue of police brutality will be the same silence America will also hear on Election Day, 2020. It may be the silence of an unmotivated Black electorate.
Albert Turner Goins, Sr., Goins Law Office Attorney at Law