Stop the Violence

Protesters on the steps of City Hall this past week.

Protesters on the steps of City Hall this past week.

The past several days have been traumatic. Two more black men shot by police. Police shot by gunmen in retaliation. And protesters gathering across the nation to ask for an end to the violence.

While the focus has been on Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights and Dallas, protesters have staged demonstrations in a number of cities, including Los Angeles. Like every other major American urban center, LA has seen its share of unarmed black men die during encounters with police officers. To remind us of this, a number of peaceful civil actions have been staged at locations including City Hall, LAPD Headquarters and Pershing Square.

Another shot of protesters on City Hall steps.

Another shot of protesters on City Hall steps.

While there’s no question that we need to see changes in the way police do their job, the problem is much larger than that. It’s not just a matter of appointing a task force to do an investigation and come up with recommendations. As a nation, we need to acknowledge that we have a long way to go to achieve equality. And as a nation, we must all commit to working towards that goal. I thought Obama said it well in his speech in Dallas….

In the end, it’s not about finding policies that work. It’s about forging consensus and fighting cynicism and finding the will to make change. Can we do this? Can we find the character, as Americans, to open our hearts to each other? Can we see in each other a common humanity and a shared dignity, and recognize how our different experiences have shaped us?

Obama asks if we can do this. I don’t doubt that it’s possible. The question is whether we will commit to making it happen.

Chalk drawings on the sidewalk in front of City Hall.

Chalk drawings on the sidewalk in front of City Hall.

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