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Ethics & Religion
Column # 2,027
June 17, 2020
Reforming America for Blacks
By Mike McManus

These past weeks have been very encouraging - with whites and blacks marching together for racial justice. Genuine reform is possible - and is needed.

Unfortunately, there is no agreement on what should be done by Congress. The House and Senate are developing their own bills - but they are contradictory. They only agree on no more police chokeholds.

The President announced executive action on policing, but the plan was swiftly rejected by Democrats as falling far short of what they call a culture of systemic racism and brutality that sparked nationwide protests.

The President formally unveiled steps to offer new federal incentives for local police to bolster training and create a national database to track misconduct. Trump pledged that "African Americans who died at the hands of police - will not have died in vain."

But he surrounded himself with uniformed police union officials, saying. "I strongly oppose radical and dangerous efforts to dismantle and dissolve our police departments. Without police there is anarchy; and without safety there is catastrophe."

Few are proposing dismantling police departments. However, my column last week proposed adopting a merger of the Camden, N.J. Police Department with county police, and thus create a county community force instead. That allowed the city to get rid of the unionized police that cost $182,168 with benefits per officer in favor of a non-unionized county police costing only $99,608 per officer. That enabled Camden to expand education reform and workplace development.

House Democrats are developing a legislative package that would strictly ban police chokeholds, make it easier for victims of police violence to sue officers and departments and create a national database of police misconduct.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected the House proposal as a nonstarter. One Republican proposal is overturning federal court precedent barring individuals from suing police.

What major reforms are needed? Here are six suggestions made by Byron Allen, Chairman and CEO of Allen Media Group, one of the largest privately-held media companies with 9 cable television networks, and 64 original TV series on the air and 15 ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox affiliate TV stations nationwide.

  1. Police Reform which includes zero tolerance of chokeholds and severe punishment for police brutality, corruption and murder.
  2. Justice Reform. Black men are sentenced to prison terms that are 20% longer than white men committing the same crime. That should change.
  3. Reparations. America must acknowledge and apologize for enslavement of African- Americans and a lack of compensation for their helping build the nation since the Civil War.
  4. Economic inclusion. Banks have not been lending money to black people. Blacks need equal access as whites to capital to buy homes or start a business.
  5. Health Care Reform: Every American needs access to health care, free of charge. "We need to completely eliminate hunger and food insecurity nationwide," says Allen.
  6. Jobs, Opportunities, Internships and Mentorships: Byron Allen's mother earned a degree at UCLA and a Masters in Cinema/TV. She asked a network if she could have an internship as an executive - and got it. Her son saw tapings of shows with Johnny Carson, Redd Fox, Bob Hope and many others. That inspired him to start his own company now called the Allen Media Group. He asserts, "America will never have true peace until America stops protecting, nurturing and fostering hate groups."

One reform not being talked about on the streets - but deserves priority attention by Congress - is to make the District of Columbia America's 51st state. Washington D.C. pays more federal taxes than 22 states - yet has no voice in the House of Representatives or the Senate.

Surely the 700,000 tax-paying people of the District deserve statehood. Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser spoke out recently on behalf of the descendants of slaves "who helped build the Capitol and the White House and this nation." She correctly charged, in a Washington Post column, "Every District resident is still treated as a second class citizen."

When she tried to create a "Black Lives Matter Plaza," a line of federal police blocked her efforts. She charged that the president became "the latest to trample our rights as citizens." She pled with Americans "to join us in our fight for statehood. That is a problem Congress can fix. Help us elect a Congress that believes in democracy. Help us elect a president who won't occupy our city

"Help us push, more unified than ever before, for the District to become the 51st state."

It is time for these reforms to be implemented.


Copyright (c) 2020 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers. To read past columns, go to www.ethicsandreligion.comm. Hit Search for any topic.


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