Our social media feeds are peppered with them — empty statements from politicians, attempting and failing to placate citizens tired of police brutality:
“I call on each of us to come together in unity,” says one.
“We stand tall against discrimination and brutality,” says another.
“I see you, I hear you, and I stand with you,” says another.
These sorts of words are nice to hear. But do they offer any solutions, any tangible steps to reversing centuries of murder and discrimination by police in America? Certainly not. This is why solidarity offered from politicians is the new “thoughts and prayers”: It gives our leaders a way to feign allyship with a movement that they make no meaningful attempt to legislatively support.
Solidarity did not pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, legislation did. Solidarity did not pass the Fair Housing Act, legislation did. In fact, solidarity has never accomplished much of anything.
It is a great misconception that solutions do not exist to the problems America is facing. Campaign Zero, an advocacy group dedicated to ending police violence, outlines a 10-point policy platform backed by research that cities and municipalities can adopt at any time. These are: end “broken windows” policing, increase community oversight, limit the use of force, independently investigate and prosecute problem officers, increase community representation in police departments, use police body cameras, enhance police training, end for-profit policing, demilitarize the police force and sign fair police union contracts.
Philip V. McHarris and Thenjiwe McHarris advocate in The New York Times to reinvest police funding in other community groups to respond to specific calls that would normally go to police — medical teams responding to overdose calls and social workers for mental health emergencies, for example. Another idea: Instead of sending police patrols to public housing, use that money to fund programs to keep residents safe. Solutions to the problems we face are ample; we do not have to settle for solidarity.
So be critical of the response regarding protests from government. Do not be appeased by pretty words. Solidarity cannot be taken to the bank.
For information on Campaign Zero, go to joincampaignzero.org