Black Lives Matter
June 4, 2020
By State Rep. Marty Wilde
Black lives matter. But we live in a culture and a country that systematically behaves as if they don’t, whether it is through discrimination in the law, the failure to investigate crimes committed against people of color or valuing their interests less in conversations about health, education, and the environment. I say this as a person who comes from a position of privilege that enables me to escape the cost of pernicious racism.
When I served as a Police Commissioner in Eugene, we saw how it was not just a few ‘bad apples’ but rather a culture that empowered them. From that perspective, it was not just one officer who killed George Floyd, it was a culture that let three other officers stand by while it happened. In Eugene, working with the police, we were able to begin the work of tackling and changing this culture by using tools like body cameras, gathering data about the perceived race of people officers stopped to help them recognize implicit bias, and strengthening civilian oversight of the police.
It was a hopeful moment when the police chief was invited to speak at a Black Lives Matter protest. But in the fight against individual misconduct, overt racism and for changing policies to help reduce unconscious bias and increase transparency, we’re not there yet. Not even close. The need for continued progress is immediate, urgent and the personal responsibility of each and every one of us.