One white lady talked about how unfair it is that black parents have to teach their kids how to act in front of cops so they don't get shot. "I don't have to teach that to my son," she said. "Something has to change."
Then another white woman said it's a shame that she doesn't have to be afraid of the police when she gets pulled over — though African-Americans do..
That was the scene last week at a panel discussion about the relationship between police and the African-American community in Miami. It was held in Brickell at a building of shared workspaces. The audience included about two dozen people. Only three were black. But to my surprise, the white and Hispanic attendees were very passionate and outspoken about how African-Americans are treated differently by the police.
That gave me hope.
Panel moderator and Miami Beach Commissioner Ricky Arriola said he was frustrated by the preferential treatment police officers receive as civil servants. For example, he noted the city was recently forced to rehire a cop who had been fired for being drunk on the job.
Panelist and Miami-Dade Police Assistant Director Stephanie Daniels described the adrenaline flow officers experience when firing their weapons. She said everything slows down for the cop, who believes he or she is firing only once or twice but, in actuality, sometimes shoots multiple rounds.
I urged them to take active roles in changing the institutional police culture that protects bad cop behavior. I told them the only way to change the status quo is from the top down. I reminded them about the two-year stretch before 2010 when Miami Police officers did not fire a single shot at a suspect. Back then, the late John Timoney was chief.
The discussion left me feeling good about Miamians regardless of race or ethnicity. We came together to solve a community problem. If we are truly going to put an end to deadly confrontations between cops and unarmed black people, whites and Hispanics have to speak up for African-Americans. That's how we'll become One Miami.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.
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