Working for change

7/31/2015, 5:06 a.m.
In light of the conversations about police abuse, unwarranted stops and arrests and homicide cases involving black people and police ...

James Clingman

In light of the conversations about police abuse, unwarranted stops and arrests and homicide cases involving black people and police officers, many black people get angry, maybe have a march and then go home to await the next incident.

Amos Wilson said, “Until our behavior changes, the behavior of those who oppress and abuse us will not change.”

In other words, the onus for change is on us.

You may not know about the Uniform Reporting Law Enforcement Improvement Act (URLEIA), which is proposed legislation that calls for the creation of a National Office of Civilian Oversight that would host meetings across the nation to garner citizen input. Law enforcement agents, their spouses and unions are not permitted to attend or participate in the Civilian Oversight Conferences. These conferences essentially are designed to create policy that governs policing. Police unions and associations largely are responsible for developing the policing approaches we see in effect today; URLEIA will change that practice.

The proposal is by ONUS Inc. and Black Communities United for Progress (BCUP) for presentation to members of Congress and President Obama. This is not just rhetorical bombast. This is attacking the problem of police brutality from a practical, logical and legal perspective.

Immediately after a white woman was shot and killed by an illegal immigrant in San Francisco, Bill O’Reilly called for what he titled “Kate’s Law” to be passed by Congress. Within days, 600,000 signatures were collected and members of Congress went to work to get the proposed law passed. They held hearings and brought the family of Kathryn Steinle to Washington to testify. They got swift action.

So where is the Tamir Rice Law against cops shooting 12-year-olds in less than two seconds? Where is the Eric Garner Law against police officers choking a man to death? Where is John Crawford’s Law that punishes department store employees for lying to 911 and cops for killing a person for holding a BB gun that is on the shelf of the store? Where is Sandra Bland’s Law that would send a cop to jail for falsely arresting a young lady who questioned why she had to put her cigarette out while seated in her own car?

Why hasn’t Mr. O’Reilly’s TV news counterpart, Al Sharpton, gone to his good friend, President Obama, and all his friends in the Congressional Black Caucus and gotten them to hold hearings and write Sandra Bland’s Law?

Instead of real action, we see our vaunted politicians genuflecting before the powers-that-be and our black organizations – the NAACP and Urban League – walking 860 miles and issuing an annual report that tells us how bad our situation is.

This is exactly why we need and must support ONUS Inc. and its URLEIA legislation. Instead of symbolic gestures, “ONUS is calling upon Congressional leaders to sponsor, endorse and enact the provisions contained in URLEIA in order to stop law enforcement agents from wreaking havoc on black Americans,” says Jerroll Sanders, ONUS Inc. president and CEO.

Mr. Sanders states, “The contents of the URLEIA legislative proposal stand in stark contrast to H.R. 2875 — a bill titled the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act of 2015 that is currently making its way through Congress. While H.R. 2875 provides additional funding for grants and U.S. Department of Justice policing oversight activities and promotes the creation of national training, accreditation and operating standards, it provides few real solutions to adequately address America’s racist policing problem.”

Please go to www.changeisonus.org and read the URLEIA legislation for yourself. If all we do is say we need change, we will never obtain it.

Jim Clingman is founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce.