In the wake of the senseless deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, protests have erupted all over the country.
While I do feel that uniting in times of crisis as well as taking our demands to the streets is important and embodies the true power of the #BlackLivesMatter movement; protests shouldn’t be our only solution. In order to hold police officers accountable for their actions, we must put real pressure on legislative officials and create practical solutions.
Here are 5 things you can easily do right now to promote better policing:
1. Educate Yourself
Knowing your rights as a law-abiding citizen is an integral part of putting an end to police brutality. From routine traffic stops and alcohol regulation laws to being in a public park after hours, there are a variety of rules and codes that the police can enforce. Some cities have even criminalized the wearing of saggy pants.
Find Law is an online resource that lists state and local regulations. Simply choose your state and search for your local area. You can also find county and municipal codes at your city clerk’s office or public library.
2. Demand Your Local Officials Take Action
During any election, local or national, is imperative that you exercise your voting rights and vote for candidates that are dedicated to addressing police brutality. Communicate with your local, state and national lawmakers, as well as your governor, mayor and any other elected official. You can easily contact Congress and demand that police brutality is a hot button issue this election year.
3. Get Involved In Your Community
In the wake of tragedy, unity is vital. Being active in your community is a surefire way to not only bring about healing but help spark real change. Whether it is mentoring, tutoring, or volunteering your skills to a local non-profit your efforts will be paving the way towards a solution. Volunteer Match is a great resource to find local opportunities to give back to your community.
4. Record The Police
Cellphones are the most convenient and easily accessible tool in combating police brutality. Every interaction where you feel uncomfortable or harassed by a police officer should be documented on camera. Always serve as witness when you have the ability to do so and understand that you have rights as an observer.
5. Engage In Dialogue With The Police
We must make allies of organizations that have the same end goal in mind — stop police brutality. Organizations such as 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement were created to represent a variety of professions in the field of law enforcement and serve as a vanguard for the voiceless. It is in our best interest to join forces with likeminded individuals as we collectively find solutions to community issues with the police.
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