Enough is Enough. Law Enforcement and Carceral Systems Must Be Accountable

This statement can be attributed to Indivar Dutta-Gupta, president and executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

Washington, D.C., January 27, 2023—The brutal killing of Tyre Nichols at the hands of five Memphis police officers is another reminder of this nation’s failure to protect Black communities from police violence.

Once again, we’re confronted with another horrific video of violence against an unarmed Black male that is traumatizing—fueling anger, frustration, and outrage at public safety systems that continue to make communities feel unsafe. The police brutality that ended Tyre Nichols’s life is the latest in a recent series of violent and deadly events that are deeply rooted in the systemic culture that enables police violence to happen so frequently in America. These events underscore the role of centuries of structural racism as the cornerstone of police violence. Accountability and transparency are the first step, but this killing and those that will inevitably follow should make clear that far more dramatic action is needed.

Enough is enough. Our nation simply can’t continue the endless cycle of tragedy, outrage, lip service, repeat. Policymakers at all levels must end police violence against Black people and other oppressed communities by acting with urgency to repair the legacies of mass criminalization and mass incarceration. Lawmakers must also act with moral clarity and shift counterproductive resources for law enforcement toward systems that affirm Black life. In particular, Congress should enact measures that are as visionary as they are viable–like the People’s Response Act, which offers a bold and evidence-based approach to ensuring public safety through alternatives to law enforcement and long-term investments in housing, health, care, and incomes that will ensure the safety that communities deserve.

As we learn more about the brutal beating of Tyre Nichols by Memphis police officers, we must remember that another Black family in this country is dealing with the loss of a son and a father to a four-year-old. As justice for Tyre becomes front and center in the courts, we must hold our Congressional leaders accountable to show courage and to stand up and finally act in ending this perpetual crisis for Black and other communities that have been marginalized. Let our anger fuel the advocacy we need to make that world a reality.