It’s a news story that’s grown uncomfortably familiar in the past four years: A young black man, apprehended by police, flees a scene. The officers give chase and, thinking he has a weapon, fatally shoot the suspect. No weapon is found. The community rises up in protest, demanding justice.
This time, the community in question is Sacramento and the young black man is Stephon Clark, a father of two who was shot eight times by police on March 18, according to an autopsy released Friday…
Going after a single officer in a particular case – whether it’s Michael Brown or Stephon Clark – could speak to a community’s broader sense of justice, they say. But it doesn’t deal with the daily interactions between police and the public that create hostility. It doesn’t force police, political leaders, or the public to consider hard questions about what law enforcement’s mission is and how they should go about accomplishing it. And it doesn’t, they add, challenge the structures that allow for all this to take place.
“People respond to the culture and systems they’re operating in,” says Judy Lubin, head of the Washington-based Center for Urban and Racial Equity and co-founder of Sociologists for Justice. “The legal structure needs to be challenged … with transparency and accountability and openness to the public in mind.”
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