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“The abrasive relationship between the police and the minority communities has been a major — and explosive — source of grievance, tension, and disorder.”
That sentence may sound like it was written yesterday, but it actually comes from the 1968 Kerner Commission Report released 50 years ago. Commissioned by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the report sought to understand the occurrence of civil disorders during the summer of 1967 and outlined recommendations relating to employment, education, housing, and other social programs.
The report uncovered problems with criminal justice, education, federal programs, and discrimination in many institutions. These grievances are still true for many communities of color — just look at the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, or the lack of heat in Baltimore schools.
With respect to policing, the report suggested establishing effective mechanisms to address grievances against police, recruiting more people of color to law enforcement, and eliminating abrasive practices, including excessive use of force and overpolicing of urban areas. But President Johnson rejected the report’s conclusions and did not implement any of the recommendations.
The Kerner Commission Report could still be used as a blueprint for addressing the troubles that continue to plague communities of color. What does it say about society that our communities are facing many of the same issues 50 years later?
Read the full article about the Kerner Commission Report and its relevance today by Olugbenga Ajilore at Urban Institute.