On December 23, 2020, police killed Angelo Quinto by kneeling on his back after responding to a mental health support call at his mother’s home. On June 2, 2020, police shot and killed unarmed Sean Monterrosa as he knelt in front of a squad car. On May 25, 2020, police killed George Floyd by kneeling on his neck while apprehending him for allegedly using counterfeit currency. 

They are just 3 of the Americans — an Asian man, a Latino man, and a Black man — killed by police during the year 2020. 

American police kill people far out of proportion to other Western democracies, three times as often as in Canada, 10 times as often as France, and 50 times as often as Great Britain. This is a complex problem with many and varied causes, three of which are the American culture of violence, the American culture of policing, and the American culture of racism. As with so many other crises, Black people are affected most of all, killed by police at three times the rate of white people in this country. 

Because of its complexity, this problem may feel intractable. It is not. We have changed our culture before, as when we abolished slavery and imbued our country with some elements of democracy during the civil rights movement. And we will change this country again. The question is, are we willing to tackle the vital components of this problem — our commitments to violence, police, and racism? 

We have the ability. Can we find the will?

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