Opinion: We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go

People Post is a space for opinion pieces, letters to the editor and guest submissions from members of the Long Beach community. The following is an op-ed submitted by Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Long Beach Post.

As Americans from all walks of life continue to express their grief and outrage over systemic racism in our country, it’s clear we have a long way to go before we achieve Dr. King’s dream of racial justice and equity for all.

It’s up to all of us to fix this problem and that starts by acknowledging it:

For too long, and in every aspect of American life, black Americans have not experienced equal treatment. Not in our education system, our workforce, government institutions or in law enforcement. Long Beach is no exception. There are no exceptions.

The brutal killing of George Floyd was horrific and we as Americans have a right to be outraged. Peaceful demonstrations are an important part of our history and the civil rights movement.

Over the last decade, our own Long Beach Police Department has come a long way in making reforms. We’ve trained every officer in de-escalation, mental health and racial equity, and added more accountability measures. All patrol officers now have body worn cameras and we’ve seen officer involved use of force incidents decline. We are proud of the progress our police department has made.

But we still have a long way to go, not just here in Long Beach but across the country. And not just in policing but in every aspect of American life and in our institutions.

Black lives matter. Black lives matter to Long Beach. And black lives matter to me.

I am committed to continuing the reforms we’ve seen here and to strengthen them. To that end, in the coming weeks, I will be joining in a series of conversations with black organizers, students, and leaders in our city to address the crisis facing our nation. I will listen, dialogue, and then we will act.

Our community and country are counting on us.

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