Last month, millions of protesters marched all over the world – including in Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View – calling for an end to systemic racism and for police reform. The brutal May 30 killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police sparked a long-overdue response.
The world hasn’t experienced demonstrations on this scale since the turbulent 1960s. The decades since have seen horrific instances of police brutality followed by vehement protests. But each time, the spotlight on injustice faded, and those in the establishment followed the same script: Wait it out and things would return to normal. Business as usual.
Will it be different this time? Reform coming out of the Black Lives Matter movement will require an ongoing commitment. How can our community address the still-pervasive issue of racism and abuse of force when we aren’t marching in the streets?
We support the series of reforms known as “8 Can’t Wait,” a campaign that requires officers to avoid excessive force and de-escalate potentially violent encounters, among other measures. Los Altos Mayor Jan Pepper and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian are among those encouraging adoption of “8 Can’t Wait.” The reforms are the outcome of a study on use of force following the 2014 death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Six years later, there’s been some partial adoption of the reforms, but clearly not everyone’s on board. Will it take more high-profile killings to push the reforms forward? Not if local leaders, media and citizens continue to make them a priority.
The push for such reforms is not an indictment of our local law enforcement. We appreciate that many officers try to do the right thing. But we hope they see “8 Can’t Wait” as specific direction on how they can improve on their public service.
We are proud of our community’s call to action and willingness to be part of the solution. We hope to see Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View as part of that concerted effort moving forward. Our newspaper’s responsibility begins with ongoing coverage that remains accountable to such issues, but it doesn’t end there. We are reminded here that our mission also is proactive, calling for more insight and justice as we all make positive changes in the wake of this impactful movement.