To the editor:
In the midst of a national uprising decrying police brutality against black people, I was extremely disappointed to see that Salem’s state representative, Paul Tucker, posted an open letter that portrayed police as victims.
Rep. Tucker’s letter insinuates that police are the injured parties who need our protection. This is false and dangerous. Police officers, as part of an institution, are not subject to systemic murder, racial profiling, or mass incarceration. Police officers take off their badge when they go home to sleep, whereas — as we know from Breonna Taylor’s death — black people cannot even sleep without being murdered by police. The matter before us is not one of “decisions that could have been better” by the police, as Rep. Tucker put it, but one of life and death.
It is inappropriate to imply that holding the police accountable — by urging cities to defund the police, calling on school boards to remove school resource officers from the hallways young black and brown children walk, or advocating for abolition entirely — is an unwarranted attack.
In an email to Rep. Tucker, I urged him to fight for the demands released by the Movement for Black Lives, particularly their call for leaders to divest resources away from policing and toward the education, health and safety of black people instead. In his reply, he committed to address these points — including that police reform is not enough — and said he would do better. I will hold him accountable to doing so. Salem deserves leaders who fight for black lives.