Letters: Systemic racism and a call to action for elected leaders
Racism endures in America
As a black man, I often wonder what white people think when they learn about tragedies such as the murders of George Floyd, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery, or Trayvon Martin (the list goes on).
Do these good white people think, "Well, they must have been doing something to be in this situation?"
I've referenced my own near-tragedy in the past but feel it bears repeating.
It was during the Rizzo years, and I was a young, post-doctoral trainee in Neuroradiology at Jefferson University Hospital. One of the other young doctors asked me to accompany him during the lunch hour to go to Strawbridge's to purchase a necktie. Back in the day, professionals dressed when going out in public, so I shed my scrubs and donned nice clothes including a white shirt, tie, and London Fog coat. My friend and I walked the few blocks to the department store.
Delighted to be outside in the sunshine — Radiology departments have no windows and are devoid of natural light — I chose to stand outside the store to soak up some rays as my friend made his purchase. As I stood on the corner on Market Street, minding my own business, a big burly police officer rushed up and slammed 5-foot, 7-inch, 130-pound me against the wall of the store. Then, he jammed the barrel of his service revolver into my neck. Shocked, I protested — well, actually, I pleaded. As I begged for an explanation and my life, he buried the gun farther into my flesh.
A few minutes later, I heard from the distance, "He's not the one!" Without explanation, the cop dropped me and hauled ass down the street. Later, I learned that a black man had snatched a purse. Even though I wasn't carrying a purse, I was the nearest black man.
That was years ago. Still, the memory continues to haunt. That day, I came so close to becoming yet another statistic. And it seems, years later, the awful truth endures unabated.
When it comes to lynching on the altar of racism, any black man will do.
— Noble L. Thompson Jr., MD, Middletown
Our public officials need to show us
It is hard to find something constructive to say. After murder, after murder, after murder. Given our history and the lies and the lack of consequences, the only rational conclusion is that every step of the judicial system has failed the black community.
I call on the governor of Delaware, the mayor of Wilmington and all the other leaders entrusted to manage their jurisdiction’s police departments: Show us. Show us the civil rights training you require your police to complete before and also after they are let out into the community.
How many hours of training? Who is doing the training? What, exactly, is the curriculum? How many complaints have been filed? Who adjudicated these complaints? What have been the outcomes? Now is the time for our governments to come clean on what they’ve done to control police brutality.
Tomorrow morning and the day after and all the days after that are the times we have been granted to stop the bleeding.
— Matthew Bailey, Newark