Rev. Eugene Rivers was on a walk in his Dorchester neighborhood when the verdict came down in the George Floyd murder trial.
“I started hearing a bunch of cars honking their horns. And then some guy hollers, 'Rev. Rivers, he’s guilty!'”
While Rivers feels hopeful about the verdict, he says there is still a long way to go: “Is it the end of racism and police violence? No. So let’s not engage in ridiculous happy talk.
Boston state Rep. Liz Miranda agrees.
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“I think folks forget that the system of policing was created in this state, in the city of Boston, to protect white, wealthy men who owned land,” she said.
Miranda said she worked hard to pass an amendment in the 2020 Massachusetts police reform bill that severely limits a police officer’s use of no-knock warrants, but adds, “People have kept dying. And I’m not sure anymore if reform alone is the only solution and to be honest I’m not sure it’s possible in today’s Massachusetts or today’s America.”
That reform bill, one of the strictest in the country, also creates a civilian oversight board with subpoena power and decertification authority and it bans chokeholds and racial profiling.
“I’m going to remain committed along with the other [elected officials] of color to ensure that we actually do reimagine what we think public safety is. Fundamentally, we cannot have responses that lead to people dying when they need help," she said.
Police reform is expected to remain on the state legislative agenda this year, with activists and political candidates calling for even more transformational change.