The story of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, shot and killed by Brooklyn Center, Minnesota police after being pulled over for minor traffic violations on Sunday, is heartbreakingly familiar. It is so familiar, in fact, that protests are happening just 10 miles from the courtroom where Derek Chauvin is on trial for the death of George Floyd. Police interactions with citizens shouldn’t end in death, and yet hundreds die at the hands of police every year. In order to protect and serve Black Americans, we need immediate solutions.
What do these solutions look like? To Paige Fernandez, the ACLU’s policing policy advisor, and Somil Trivedi, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project, solutions lie in the decriminalization of low-level offenses, divestment from the police, and reinvestment in community resources. Fernandez and Trivedi joined At Liberty to discuss the reality of policing in America and what comes next. We also hear from activists on the ground in Minnesota.
“Crime is, first of all, a social construct,” said Fernandez. “And second of all, it’s not random. People have to engage in it when we can’t meet their needs. So I think there really needs to be a focus on: How do we allow people to thrive in this country?”
“Policing targets overwhelmingly low income people,” she added. “So what if we provided them with the resources to have a job that pays them well, a living wage, and provides them with housing? So many of the criminal laws on the book criminalize poverty.”