What started in Minneapolis – protests over the murder of George Floyd in police custody – is reverberating around the world. From New Zealand to Brazil to Israel, Mexico, Turkey, Kenya, Japan, Canada – it might be simpler to list countries without protests. Hundreds of thousands of people are marching, expressing their rage over what happened to George Floyd and other people of color before him.
Past demonstrations have been met with police force, in some cases in the form of police brutality. But as protests continue night after night, we hear about different kinds of demonstrations, including stories of a police chief and his officers engaging in dialogue with protestors. We’ve seen photos of officers taking a knee in solidarity with the protestors.
Earlier this week, Governor Roy Cooper announced the creation of a new task force to address criminal justice reform – to be led by Justice Anita Earls and Attorney General Josh Stein. In his remarks at that press briefing, Cooper said too many people of color have been harassed, harmed, injured or killed. He admitted that generations of historical trauma too often was inflicted by a criminal justice system charged with protecting people of color but instead -- treating them unfairly. And he cited data that demonstrates communities of color are disproportionately affected at all stages of the criminal justice system.
Black adults are almost six times more likely to be incarcerated than white adults. Black men are two-and-a-half times more likely to be killed by law enforcement. Hispanic adults are 3 times more likely to be incarcerated than whites adults. When convicted of the same crime, black men receive a prison sentence that is 20% longer than white men. Black women are imprisoned at twice the rate of white women and are one-and-a-half times more likely to be killed by law enforcement. That data, says Governor Cooper, tells the story.