America has been forced to address a problem that has gone unchecked for far too long — racism and the violent acts that often accompany it.
Let’s never forget the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and now Rayshard Brooks and the many others that have been victims of this divisive way of thinking and acting. Recent travesties of justice underscore the long history of violence and racism people in America, and Colorado, still face.
In Colorado, the response to these injustices has been swift. Gov. Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 217 on Juneteenth with decisive steps to change police department practices for the good of all of Colorado. The legislature overwhelmingly passed the bill 52-13 in the House and 32-2 in the Senate.
This is a great example of how our community can come together to find common ground and start the long overdue work for systemic reform. Working together with Black leaders, communities of color, victim advocates and law enforcement, our state leaders have begun the difficult task of advancing the cause of equal justice and outcomes for all Americans.
Coloradans know how to come together when needed most.
“What we accomplished with Senate Bill 217 serves as a reminder that direct action matters. Protest matters. Black lives matter,” Elisabeth Epps, an abolitionist with the Colorado Freedom Fund and American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, said in a news release.
Reform cannot be accomplished without all of us participating and working together. Police unions remain critical voices as we work together toward solutions.
“As difficult as this legislative process has been, we really do believe this is going to make us better,” said Steve Schulz, president of the Colorado Fraternal Order of Police.
We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create meaningful and lasting change. This time, we must do more than just listen and learn. All of us have a responsibility to meet this historic moment with courage and humility, and to commit to concrete actions to help protect and defend Black lives and all people of color.
Stories of injustice must be seen — captured by journalists and citizens alike. Institutions must step up, influencing public policy nationally. And you and I, in our state and in our cities, must empower community initiatives.
AT&T, for example, is working with civil rights organizations, law enforcement, elected officials and other businesses on the local, state and federal levels to push for change to address injustices in law enforcement. As part of our advocacy, we’ll continue our decades-long financial support and engagement with existing civil rights groups and will also look to partner with others who can make a difference.
Our current CEO Randall Stephenson has also agreed to lead a new Business Roundtable committee of top CEOs to push for public policy changes to deliver equal justice outcomes for all.
As a board member of the Colorado Business Roundtable, I am committed to hosting conversations about how business can effectuate change right here in our home state.
Participating in this struggle is a moral and business imperative — not just for AT&T, but for all companies, and for all communities and citizens.
Every journey must begin with a single step. We have miles to go, but we must pause to acknowledge and applaud our Legislature and governor for embracing this monumental and historic moment and moving Colorado forward towards equality and justice.
To view this story as published in the Pueblo Chieftain on July 4, 2020, click here.*
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