|The overall societal issue of police misconduct and brutality is not a new phenomenon, especially for the African American communities where it has had disproportionate impact. The public outcry around it reached the national consciousness during the civil unrest of the 1960s, over police abuses; was reignited during the “L.A. Riots” sparked by the Rodney King beating and subsequent trial; and, has reached critical mass with the summer of intense protests following the deaths of George Floyd and others at the hands of police.|
The critical mass of activism and protest has made legislative change a priority. While both major parties and houses have offered potential bills, the House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. This bill will now need Senate approval, which will prove challenging based upon contested provisions therein. Championing the need for this proposed reform to become action is a cause Phi Beta Sigma must add to our 107-year long history of advocacy as “A Brotherhood of Conscious Men Actively Serving Our Community.”
The Men of Sigma have been a force for change that positively impact the lives of African-Americans and humanity as a whole throughout the decades of battling this brand of injustice. During the 60s, Bro. Dr. Huey P. Newton was a leading voice in the powerful activism that emerged from the ashes of the nationwide riots. In the 90s, the Fraternity facilitated the Million Man March as Black men stood up in response to a lack of justice despite evidence. And, in the current milieu, the Men of Sigma have responded en masse, leading the way with protest in the streets and webinars and social media advocacy in the digital domain. But, in this moment, the fraternity must use direct appeals to our representatives and encourage our circles of influence to do likewise. We must uphold the legacy and example of Sigma lawmakers like the late Hon. Bro. John Lewis and recently initiated Bro. Rep. Adriano Espaillat.
Therefore, ALL Sigma men are asked to call and email their Senators and encourage them to vote to pass this important legislative action. We must let them know their constituency wants protections for the constitutional and human rights of all citizens, even those suspected of a crime. We all deserve equal protection under the law, due process and respect for our humanity. Also, as a fraternity with many dedicated law enforcement professionals, we want our brothers and all those who uphold the law honorably to have a framework of rules that protects their reputation from rogues and criminals who abuse under the color of authority. We believe that having these principles in play creates an environment that protects people, supports police and allows us all to live in safer, more harmonious cities.
Brothers of Sigma, a recent article shared the details of the bill and the urgency around passing it with the title
“We Must Act Now” (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2021/03/03/house-passes-george-floyd-police-reform-bill/6904980002/).
We, as Sigma Men, understand the importance of “TIME VALUE” and will no doubt take immediate action in helping to ensure passage of this legislation by the Senate.
|Hon. Bro. Micheal E. Cristal, International President|