• Donna Lake for NC

Black Lives Matter. Police and justice reform matter.

It is with a heavy heart that I find myself writing about another violent shooting, and more black lives altered forever. I see more people, young people especially, taking to the streets to demonstrate and beg for their leaders to reform the justice system.

Leadership starts at the top – we should appoint key leaders to a task force for the purpose of improving law enforcement behaviors, training and policies. These leaders should come from every background: faith-based, active and retired law enforcement, community advocates, lawyers, teachers, students, behavioral health experts, and elected officials. They should identify targeted areas where change is most necessary, build strategic and tactical objectives, and create a realistic plan for evaluating progress.

This model is based on the Healthy People 2030 Initiative, which began in 1977 and is now in its fifth edition, and which established 355 core, measurable objectives. In my career I have taken part in this initiative at the national level, and I believe it is the approach we should take to tackle all serious problems. We can also look at our athletes and celebrities for examples of how to use our collective voice and platforms to advocate for change. Several NBA and WNBA teams have demonstrated their courage to speak out against injustice by kneeling during the anthem, boycotting games, and most recently, many NBA arenas will be used as voting sites in the November election.

The Los Angeles Lakers released a beautiful statement about the crossroads our nation faces and the challenge before us to seek racial justice in the form of judicial and policing reform. It is not a radical statement to agree that Black Lives Matter. All lives cannot matter until black ones do. We are well past the need for a major change in our law enforcement and justice system, as evidenced again in the excessive violence used in Kenosha, WI against Jacob Blake, who is now permanently paralyzed by the waist down. The time for action is NOW.

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