The beginning of the end of police violence?

Talk is notoriously cheap of course, and at particularly cut-rate discount when it comes from the mouths of government officials. But this sounds really, really good to me.

U.S. police chiefs group apologizes for ‘historical mistreatment’ of minorities

The president of America’s largest police organization on Monday issued a formal apology to the nation’s minority population “for the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in society’s historical mistreatment of communities of color.”

Terrence M. Cunningham, the chief of police in Wellesley, Mass., delivered his remarks at the convention in San Diego of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, whose membership includes 23,000 police officials in the United States.

Cunningham continued, “While we obviously cannot change the past, it is clear that we must change the future…For our part, the first step is for law enforcement and the IACP to acknowledge and apologize for the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in society’s historical mistreatment of communities of color.”

He concluded, “It is my hope that, by working together, we can break this historic cycle of mistrust and build a better and safer future for us all.”

The 16,000 police chiefs and law enforcement officials in attendance gave him a standing ovation.

I would like to see this talk lead to, you know, positive action. And if it results in a paradigm shift that proves beneficial with respect to racial minorities, it can and must be built upon to include the mentally ill, sex workers and other groups who suffer disproportionate violence at the hands of police.

If I sound hopeful, I’m really not. As everyone knows, I dislike and distrust humans as a species, and particularly conservative US citizens. It’s just that I want so fucking badly for police culture in my country to be excellent, for mass incarceration and the drug war to end, for the criminalization of poverty and race and queerness and mental illness to be a thing of the past, for state violence to be virtually eliminated. I may be cynical, but I’m not entirely irrational: it happens on rare occasions that humans surprise me for the better. And if US policing actually does get better, well, it would have to start somewhere, sometime, wouldn’t it?

Why not today, in San Diego?

The text of Chief Cunningham’s speech can be read in its entirely at the link.

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