End Police Brutality: Tell Congress to Reform Our Police
source: Justice and Peace Action Network - United Church of Christ
On January 7th, five Memphis police officers assaulted 29-year-old Tyre Nichols following a routine traffic stop just two minutes away from his home. The police brutally beat and taunted Tyre, leaving him in such a state that he died in the hospital three days later. Tyre’s story is one that is all too common in communities across the United States.
The organization Mapping Police Violence found that in 2022, 1,192 people were killed by police violence. This is the highest annual count since they began tracking police killings in 2013. Black people accounted for 26% of these deaths despite only accounting for 13% of the population. Indigenous people are also killed by police at an even greater rate compared to their proportion of the population. But death by police violence impacts people of all races, in urban, suburban, and rural areas across the nation. Not to mention the number of non-fatal incidents of police brutality that go unreported and don’t make the headlines. Most of these deaths occurred in responses to mental health crises, disturbances, situations with no active threat of violence, traffic stops, or where no crime was alleged at all. Situations that could have been potentially de-escalated and resolved without violence.
When the United Church of Christ pronounced itself a Just Peace church, it affirmed “[…the use of] civil authority to prevent lawlessness and protect human rights.” It also affirmed that “such force must not be excessive and must always be in the context of the primary responsibility of the state in creating social justice and promoting human welfare.” The reality of policing in this nation does not align with this value. So, what are we as church going to do about it?
We can call on our elected leaders in Congress to reintroduce the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 1280) to begin the work of national comprehensive police reform. Key reforms included are:
- Restriction of “no-knock” warrants, chokeholds, and carotid holds,
- Creation of a National Police Misconduct Registry to compile data on complaints and records of police misconduct,
- Requiring law enforcement officers to complete training on racial profiling, implicit bias, and the duty to intervene when another officer uses excessive force.
Christ taught us that true peace is not achieved through the use of violence. It is up to us as people of faith to be the voice for change so that we may all live in communities free of violence—including at the hands of those sworn to protect us. Please send a message to your US representatives today!