Wednesday, July 22, 2020
It would be difficult indeed to deny systemic racism in our public institutions, particularly our legal ones. This realization for some seems overwhelming, making it difficult for them know where to begin.
Envisioning our legal systems as huge and unmovable machines incapable of stopping reinforces helplessness. What is denied in that assessment is that our legal system is populated by individuals and supported by individual citizens who passively accept the policies of racism embedded in our culture.
Local elections of district attorneys and in many jurisdictions, judges, are under the control of individual citizens. We determine leadership of the courts and in prosecutions. In deciding through elections who that leadership will be, we decide what the policies and institutional culture will be. Philadelphia's citizens took control and elected District Attorney Larry Krasner. Mr. Krasner examined racist policies and took measures toward eliminating systemic bias. This included holding biased and violent police officers accountable. Mr. Krasner announced today that he intends to arrest any federal agents sent to Philadelphia by the President who behave as they did in Portland- kidnapping protesters.
For those who do not have direct experience with our legal systems, apathy might be the response to local elections of judges, court clerks and prosecuting attorneys. As we have heard as part of BLM, silence is violence. Scrutiny of candidates' policy agenda is critical. No election is too local to fail to scrutinize the bias of candidates and their willingness to "go along" with the status quo. Voting apathy is not acceptable. We must be mindful that each elected official reflects our individual and community values. Bias in all forms can be addressed.