In the age of COVID-19, when people are beginning to understand their interconnectedness and oneness, we now have a reinvigorated civil rights movement, Black Lives Matter, ignited by the last straw of viewing the brutal killing of a black man in public by a sanctioned officer of the law for the alleged crime of trying to pass a counterfeit bill that has brought Americans out in droves demanding justice for all.

It appears that Black Lives Matter is now the number one issue that Americans want to address with equal importance to dealing with a pandemic. It is a good sign that with the stress we have been living with for the past three-plus months, having to totally alter our lives and live within the confines of a “new normal,” we are seeing this cause take a priority for the survival of our society.

I was encouraged to read in both the Cape Cod Times and the Mashpee Enterprise that a dialogue has been initiated between Cape Cod police departments and human rights leaders on the Cape specifically for the purpose of examining policing throughout the region. I was, however, discouraged to read the quote printed in the Cape Cod Times on Friday, June 5, attributed to Frank Fredrickson, chief of the Yarmouth Police Department and head of the Cape and Islands Police Chiefs Association, in which he states, “We don’t even look at this as a racial incident for the most part” and goes on to promote the idea that this was a matter of a human being brutally murdered by a police officer. I would like his honest answer to the question, “Would this have happened to a white man while others watched?”

If the dialogue that has been started is really meant to see how this incident and so many others that have happened and continue to happen with regularity can be stopped, it needs to begin with an understanding of how, historically, racial injustice has been written into the institution of law enforcement. Laws written in the post-Civil War era specifically condoned the brutal punishing and killing of black people for convoluted offenses and have been tacitly passed down through the generations.

True dialogue will require a study of the history of African Americans in this country, starting with slavery and continuing to present day, to gain the understanding of why racial injustice is still written into our system. How many people know that, even today, a federal anti-lynching law (Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act) is being held up in Congress by Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky)? It needs to be understood that there are people in positions of power in this country who are unconsciously affected by our country’s history of systemic racism. We are all affected by this.

There is a plethora of resources to turn to in examining this issue, and I would hope the group will avail themselves of those resources in coming up with an effective plan of action. One that I would highly recommend is the book “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome” by Dr. Joy DeGruy and the corresponding 10-week course “African American Multi-generational Trauma and Implementing Models of Change.” In her words, the institution of law enforcement is broken and cannot be fixed. It will need to be dismantled and rebuilt. Far from being a radical idea, cities across the country are recognizing this same truth and are demanding that, we the people, take a bold, fresh look at how our communities are policed.

I do hope that this group among the many others that have formed around this issue will have the requisite effect of leading our society as a whole to recognizing the oneness of humanity. Without it, there can be no peace.

Teresa R. Donovan

Pond View Drive

Mashpee

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