I want to respond to the opinion piece by Leslie Baker. First she gives a misleading statistic, stating that because the combined total of police shootings of black and Latino Americans is twice the number of shootings of blacks, that there is no racial problem here. Reasons why this is misleading are that 1) Only one out of eight Americans are black so it already shows a disproportionate rate of police killings of black people, 2) Latinos are also more likely to be profiled by police (if you don’t believe that read the charges on which Joe Arpaio was found guilty,) 3) includes cases where the suspect is armed (obviously if an armed suspect is threatening police or anyone else the officer has no choice and this is not a questionable shooting.) If we narrow it down to cases where the victim was unarmed we see a higher rate of death of African-Americans.
Further the fact that sometimes police kill white people who are unarmed (if you can stomach it, go back and watch the video of Daniel Shaver being shot while stripped down to his underwear in a Mesa hotel a few years ago.) The fact that Shaver was white is not an excuse statistically or otherwise for the death of George Floyd. Nor have we discussed the killing of victims like Trayvon Martin and Ahmaud Arbery, whose killers were not police, but that doesn’t make them any less dead.
Not all police do profile or kill. But the system we have is set up to protect the bad ones, and the lack of a national database means that some of them are so-called ‘gypsy cops’ who after being fired or leaving for abuses in one place get jobs in other departments. That's what happened to the Winslow police officer who shot Loreal Tsingine a few years ago, after having previously been reprimanded twice.
I’d also like to address Ms. Baker’s misconception of the term 'defund the police.' The effort to move resources and responsibility from the police to other services better equipped to handle situations is not new. My father was a trained mental health worker and I remember him (decades ago) getting called out day or night to work with someone in crisis. Somehow these calls eventually began going to the police. Police are trained to take command of a situation but when working with the mentally ill this can create an unpredictable and volatile situation, which often ends tragically. Sending instead mental health professionals makes sense.
Ms. Baker did get one thing right. The protesters are of all races and backgrounds. People recognize that this centuries old American problem of valuing black lives less must end.