The FBI is investigating abuse within the San Bernardino jail system, the DOJ found a pattern of excessive force and police brutality within the Albuquerque police force, a federal judge in Sacramento ordered the CDCR to continue reforming its abusive treatment of mentally ill inmates, the nation's Attorney General revised federal guidelines on racial profiling, and a compliance officer was appointed to oversee reduction of California's unconstitutionally overcrowded prison population.
Yet in the same week we learned that LASD deputies managed to "accidentally" shoot and kill a young television producer who was attempting to assist in a hostage situation, the heirs of a mentally disabled Gulf War veteran filed a lawsuit alleging wrongful death and civil rights violations at the hands of Central Valley cops, and the Kern County district attorney's office decided that no criminal charges need be filed against police officers who beat David Silva to death while bystanders videotaped it and subsequently had their cell phones confiscated in violation of their constitutional rights.
The external police brutality oversight architecture -- including federal, state and local agencies, committees and commissions, attorneys, courts and juries and even the media itself -- is clearly essential in society's quest for accountability, justice and peace. But to truly eliminate police brutality and systemic injustice we may need more emphasis on the internal oversight that can only come from within our own hearts and personal moral compasses.
Wherever we fit within the policing system or the external oversight architecture that seeks to eliminate police brutality and systemic injustice, we can benefit from the guidance in the following words, written on a napkin by the Indian author Arundhati Roy:
To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.