My name is Ronald E. Hampton, retired D.C. Metropolitan police officer, and former executive director of the National Black Police Association. As the Convener of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century’s Police Justice and Accountability Task Force, I am facilitating a national and international conversation on the urgent need to radically restructure the concept and practice of public safety and law enforcement with a group of police and criminal justice reform advocates, scholars, former police and corrections officers. The current destructive, death-dealing system that is suppressing, oppressing, brutalizing, and killing Black people must be abolished.
I was not at all surprised, shocked, or blindsided by the actions of the Black police officers in Memphis who taunted, humiliated and beat Tyre Nichols to death, allegedly for driving “recklessly.” The behavior of these officers and others on the scene, who were supposed to “serve and protect” the community is a raw, naked manifestation of the systemic and internalized racism within policing which is a mirror reflection of other institutions in our society.
In addition, this unconscionable incident should cause us to examine the idea that just having Black police officers in the ranks of police departments in this country will prevent or reduce police brutality and misconduct in the Black community. This is obviously not the case. I say what’s needed is, not “reform,” but a complete restructuring of a corrupt culture and system of policing in America. In the interim, what I do think is important is connecting with Black police officers within police departments to create a network of socially conscious Black officers who will counter the racist blue culture by fighting for restructuring from the inside.
“We owe it to the family of Tyre Nichols and all the families that have been traumatized by the loss of loved ones at the hands of killer cops to continue the struggle to abolish the existing racist, corrupt system. This is the mission we will take up at the forthcoming State of the Black World Conference from April 19-23, in Baltimore, during our sessions on reimagining public safety and law enforcement. We are determined to contribute to the struggle for a new paradigm of public safety and law enforcement to really serve and protect Black people!