Meet Rocco

Meet Rocco, Toronto lawyer

Rocco Achampong, a Ghanian-born Canadian, has been practising law for over ten years in criminal, civil, and administrative litigation. He graduated from Osgoode Hall law school, York University in 2008 and is licensed with the Law Society of Ontario. Rocco chose law because of his empathetic and compassionate personality. “I bring about a compassionate approach where I can see the position of both sides, leaving room for collaboration, and ultimately maintaining some fidelity to the purpose of justice.”

Rocco always knew he wanted to become a lawyer. Before he completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto, he went straight to Osgoode Law. His education coupled with being surrounded by role models who all had law degrees gave his life a legal direction. “It was the only thing that made sense” says the Toronto lawyer. In the last 10 years, Rocco has never looked back. “When you do right by a young person who had been wrongfully targeted by police, and who is at risk of destroying his life, and you help them, it is a very satisfying feeling.” 

A civil-rights activist and a community leader at heart, Rocco has been actively mobilizing the community as the leader who he is. As the co-founder and president of the Black Students’ Association at UofT in 2001, he was in charge of 41,000 constituents and a $12-million budget. Now, that spark of leadership has been transpired into political leadership. In 2018, Rocco ran for City Counsellor of Eglington-West, and in 2010, he was a mayoral candidate. 

READ MORE: African Canadian Social Development Fights Against Anti-Black Racism

Currently, Rocco sits on different boards, the International Black Film Alliance and the Pan-African Union Board (a proposed initiative). 

Rocco uses his many talents to serve his community in many ways, but being a lawyer is the most satisfying experience. As a lawyer, “I walk in the experience of my clients, and I am able to identify with someone in need” says Rocco. He serves his clients with compassion and empathy because he understands their circumstances. If you have legal questions or need more information feel free to contact Rocco by email: roccoachampong@gmail.com or by phone: (416) 434-2828. 

African Canadian Social Development Council Fights Against Anti-Black Racism

The fight against anti-Black and systemic racism continues in our African-Canadian communities. On Thursday, August 20, 2020 the African Canadian Social Development Council (ACSDC) – Toronto held a rally at the Toronto City Hall, and invited guest speakers within the African circle of social justice, academic, political, and criminal justice to speak on the issues that affect our communities, and to give us a message of hope. The event commenced with the sound of drumming, a symbolic African tradition that accompanies every ceremony. The purpose of this rally  can be summed up in the words of the President of the ACSDC, Nene (Chief) Kabu Asante, “The system has to change. We can’t breath and it’s killing us slowly. We need the city, the province and federal government to invest more in our communities…” These words, “We can’t breath” echoed from the African-American man, Mr. George Floyd who died by the hands of police brutality in Minneapolis, Minnesota, earlier this year on May 25, 2020.   

READ MORE: There is hope

3 men drumming, fighting against anti-black racism

The ACSDC is an umbrella organization for all African-Canadian community agencies and cultural organizations in Ontario. One such organization is the Sickle Cell Awareness Group of Ontario (SCAGO). The founder and president, Ms. Lanre Tunji-Ajayi states, “Far too long, people of African descent and the black community have been stigmatized and racialized. We must rise with our voices, our pens, and papers, and demand a change from systemic racism.” SCAGO has been advocating, educating, and building awareness about sickle cell since 2005. “Three years ago, when I came to study in Canada, I was paralyzed because of my sickle cell, leaving me unable to use my hands and legs. I was a quadriplegic, who needed life support,” says, Ms. Oluwayemisi Abatan, who is now a supporter of SCAGO. As a result of this organization advocating for her health, Abatan can now walk and take care of herself. Systemic racism, in our health care system, affects patients who are of African or Caribbean descent because quality care may be withheld, and without proper advocacy, may result in death.  

This is the reason the ACSDC has organized this Anti-Black Racism rally because Black Lives Matter in health care, in our school systems, in our criminal justice system, in our work places, and in all segment of our communities. “…The fact that systemic racism is not as prevalent in Canada does not mean it does not exist here” says Mr. George Chuku, TV host of Afro global television & VP Nigerian Canadian Association. “We have to create a level playing field for everyone to succeed, because only a few privilege successes is guaranteed, while others are struggling. We are asking to be treated fairly.”

MPP Faisal Hassan speaking, fighting against anti-black racism

MPP Faisal Hassan of York-South Weston reminds us that, “Racism is rooted in all structures of government, and that the experiences of the Caribbean, African, and all immigrants should be taught in schools.” He further stated, “there is discrimination based on postal code, such as auto-insurance, because we are targeted where we live. It must end.”   

READ MORE: Mandela, Floyd, apartheid, uprisings, and unrest

The agenda had many other speakers such as: Professor George Sefa Dei (UofT), Lawyer Eyitayo F. Dada (President of the Canadian Nigerian Lawyers Association, Francois Yabit (Executive Director Northwood Neighbourhood, Toronto, Shamso Elmi (Mending the Crack in the Sky, Co-organizers), and Rocco Achampong, Defence lawyer and civil rights activist.  Achampong expressed a resounding sentiment in the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “We must…be the change (we) wish to see in the world.” To make change he says, “We must come with clean hands.” 

These protests have been consistent within the Canadian black, African and Caribbean communities due to the death of Mr. Floyd earlier this year. Today, it was the African Canadian Social Development Council and the different agencies and organizations it represents, speaking out to our governments, and echoing the words of Mr Floyd, “We can’t breath.” The ACSDC is calling on the city, the province and the federal government to stop systemic racism, increase funding in the black communities, stop targeting our neighbourhoods, and give us quality health care, including increase funding for sickle cell disease.         

Meet Ayo

My name is Ayo Adetuberu, the Principal at Adetuberu Law Office. I am a licensed lawyer with the Law Society of Ontario and Nigerian Bar Association. I realized early the power that comes with the knowledge of law. I wanted to be equipped with that knowledge and make it accessible to all. My core practice areas are Real Estate, Immigration, and Family Law. My family law practice is mainly focused on assisting low-income earners and victims of domestic abuse and guiding them through the legal process. I am involved with different organizations to achieve this, one of which is the Luke’s Place, a centre for change devoted solely to improving the safety and experience of abused women and children as they proceed through the family law process.

My practice is built on 3 core values: Creative Solutions, Competitive Pricing and Client Satisfaction. I empathize well with people from different backgrounds. At Adetuberu Law, we understand that our role is to look after our clients and their best interests, and we take that role seriously. It is with utmost respect and dedication in which we serve you. The quickest way to reach me is through my email: ayo@adetuberulaw.com.

For more information, you can also visit my website.

Solidarity and hope: OPSEU recommits to ending anti-Black racism

By: https://opseu.org/news/solidarity-and-hope-opseu-recommits-to-ending-anti-black-racism/108616/

In a high-profile step towards true equality in the workplace and in the union, thousands of OPSEU members and staff participated in the union’s July 7 telephone town halls on anti-Black racism.

“Systemic racism is real. It is deadly. And it has to stop,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas at the beginning of the meeting. “The good news is that we can stop it. Working together, we can help build a foundation for a new way of thinking, and a new way of acting.”

The town halls were just one element in OPSEU’s strong recommitment to the fight against anti-Black racism, and gave members and staff a chance to share their stories, questions, and concerns. Members and staff are encouraged to continue submitting their stories and recommendations by emailing them to antiblackracism@opseu.org.

The town halls, which were held in two sessions to accommodate members’ schedules, were moderated by well-known personality and anti-Black racism activist Farley Flex. He was joined by a panel of Black OPSEU members and staff, President Thomas and OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida.

“My life hasn’t always been easy and I’ve had to overcome a lot. But I’ve never had to overcome the systemic racism that Black people face,” said Almeida. “I’ve seen it firsthand. I’m a Correctional Officer, and I can tell you that that there are too many Black and Indigenous Peoples in our jails.”

Thomas and Almeida finished the town halls with strong commitments to read and reflect on all of the questions and comments from members and staff and report back soon with plans for concrete action, including more education and investment.

“Today marks OPSEU’s renewal of our vow to eradicate Anti-Black Racism. We know we haven’t always gotten it right.  But we hear you,” said Thomas. “We promise you that we’ll never let up. One thing about this union: we never give up.”

Fred Upshaw

Thomas, Almeida, their fellow panelists, and the members and staff who asked questions made it clear that there’s still much work to be done to eliminate anti-Black racism in the workplaces where OPSEU represents members and in the union itself.

As a union strongly committed to social justice, OPSEU members have often led the fight against systemic racism. Former President Fred Upshaw became the first Black person to lead a major Canadian union when he was elected in 1990.

Joscelyn Ross

Panelist Joscelyn Ross, an OPSEU health and safety officer, said a concrete action that all workers can do is think about anti-Black racism as a health and safety issue: document it, and grieve it.

“I encourage conversation with your health and safety rep to look at racism and microaggressions in the workplace, which can lead to psychosocial stress,” said Ross, who was an OPSEU member for more than 20 years before joining its staff in 2016. “When you can demonstrate to the employer that employees are facing stress due to workplace discrimination, you can then say, ‘Here’s our evidence and we need to talk about this because you have an obligation to provide the safest workplace possible.’”

Many of the comments and questions from members focused on what OPSEU can do to support members – particularly young workers — who feel afraid to speak up about discrimination in the workplace, whether it’s being passed over for promotions or outright harassment.

Shauna-Kay Cassell

“I know what it’s like to be a young worker and to stay silent. But if something feels wrong, it probably is. Trust your gut. Now is not the time to be silent,” said panelist Shauna-Kay Cassell, a Local 526 member. “And remember that there are many things protecting you, from laws like the Ontario Human Rights Code to your collective agreement and your union. They all help protect you.”


Carlotta Ewing

Panelist Carlotta Ewing, a Local 228 member, added that members facing or witnessing racism can always call on their Local President or their staff rep for guidance, assurance, and advice.

“With OPSEU, you have so many resources and so much expertise to help you,” said Ewing. “Equity, communications, campaigns, legal, grievances. This union has so much to support you. And it’s yours – use it.”

Peter Thompson

Panelist Peter Thompson, who is the chair of the OPSEU Coalition for Racialized Workers (CoRW), said that as long as he’s been a member, the union has been at the forefront of the fight against racism, whether it’s been through sensitivity training for members and staff or through ambitious projects like social mapping.

“I see all kinds of corporations and organizations coming out now with statements against racism, but I’m proud to say that OPSEU and the Coalition of Racialized Workers have been making these statements and doing anti-racism work for years,” said Thompson. “If you want to know more about what the union and coalition are doing, ask your local presidents – the more they share this information, the better.”

Evan Wickham

Panelist Evan Wickham, who sits on the OPSEU Provincial Young Workers Committee (PYC), echoed Thompson’s point that, in many ways, OPSEU’s locals are on the front-lines of this struggle.

“The murder of George Floyd has roused a lot of us and given us opportunity to be heard,” said Wickham. “OPSEU is a member-driven union. We have a lot of support as members, so let’s step forward and keep voicing our concerns and filing our grievances. That’s how we make the most of this opportunity.”

Along with the members’ locals and the CoRW, OPSEU’s dedicated Equity Unit is another source of information and support for members.

Andrea McCormack

“We’ll never leave you to stand on your own in the fight against racism,” said panelist Andrea McCormack, a long-time OPSEU staff rep who is temporarily reassigned as an Employment Equity Lead in the Employee Relations Division. “This is the first of many conversations that OPSEU will have. Make sure you’re part of it because the support from the union’s leadership is strong. OPSEU is committed to amplifying our voices.”

Flex finished the town hall by asking the panelists for a few final thoughts. They were all moving (you can find them here on Twitter), but Cassell summed it up beautifully:

“I’ll finish with four thoughts,” said Cassell. “One: Speak up, especially if you’re a young worker. Two: Know your rights, you have a lot of them. Three: Find a champion, there are many in OPSEU. Four, and this might be the most important: be hopeful. Change is inevitable, but progress is up to us. And I believe we can make progress.”

Anti-Black Racism Resources & Feedback

We encourage all members and staff to continue sharing their stories and recommendations by emailing them to antiblackracism@opseu.org.

Ontario Investing in Frontline Corrections Workers

Hiring More Staff and Updating Infrastructure Will Improve Safety 

June 16, 2020 3:00 P.M.

Written By: Ministry of the Solicitor General

TORONTO — The Ontario government is investing more than $500 million over five years to transform correctional facilities across the province. This funding will help ensure the safety and security of frontline staff.

This major investment will support the hiring of more than 500 new staff to help address challenges within the correctional system such as mental health and addiction issues. The additional funding will also be used to modernize outdated infrastructure to address overcrowding and to improve services.

“Our government heard from corrections staff across the province about the challenges they face each and every day,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “These investments will create a better, safer environment for our hard-working frontline staff and will help strengthen Ontario’s corrections system.”

Hiring additional staff will also help ensure the government is complying with its obligations regarding the use of segregation within correctional facilities. The modernization of outdated infrastructure, including building additional day rooms and making modifications to yard spacewill allow the province to provide more effective programming space.

 “We have been clear in our support for corrections staff and we are determined to continue providing needed resources to these men and women who are always there when they are needed most,” said Solicitor General Jones.

Recent government action to support correctional staff includes:

Additional Resources

Facelift for the Justice system

The Ministry of the Attorney General has made significant strides in responding to the state of emergency which began on March 17, 2020, leading to the rapid facelift of the justice system. Both the Ontario Court of Justice and the Superior Court of Justice began hearing matters remotely, by the use of zoom application and teleconferences. Judges and lawyers called into the court, while the court staff (including a registrar and reporter) managed the operation from within the court itself. These were the kinds of technological investments that were made to facilitate urgent matters in the courts during the pandemic. Covid-19 has shifted the consciousness of our justice system, giving it a facelift for the 21st century.

The Ontario government made significant investments for the purchasing of 600 new teleconference lines, over 900 laptops and VPN tokens, and 746 cell phones to name a few of the resources required to update Ontario’s severely antiquated justice system. Further, staff training have been ongoing: refresher courses for Office365, VPN, JVN, e-signature and other remote work tools. These are options that many of us have never heard of, much less imagine would be part of our “work tools.” In the last two weeks, the Recovery Secretariat has put on a number of town hall meetings held on zoom to guide Ministry staff through the health and safety measures and protocols for court recovery. In addition, court staff were methodically trained on Zoom application. The Ministry of the Attorney General have been swift and proactive in the face of challenges. My only hope is that these changes will be lasting.

Covid-19 made us see the flexibility of our justice system in implementing change, albeit slow over the decades. These changes, “…will move Ontario’s justice system forward by decades and allow it to emerge from this public health crisis more resilient and better positioned to face future challenges” says Attorney General Doug Downey in a press conference held on May 8, 2020. “These responsible investments will leave a legacy of transformational benefits to all Ontarians in every region of our province, making it easier, faster and more affordable to access justice no matter where people live.”

In the midst of the technological changes, the justice system also has to focus on an interim plan for the health and safety of our courthouses. Close to 300 protective barriers have been designed for the 74 sites, including courthouses, agencies and tribunal locations. There has been enhanced cleaning of the courthouses, on a regular basis; the cleaning of door handles, escalator rails, and the courtrooms. At the Superior Court of Justice, located at 361 University Ave, I have seen the cleaners in action first-hand. Hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes have been readily available in courtrooms. Approximately 7,000 units of hand sanitizers have been purchased for the courts in Ontario.

In preparation for the reopening on July 6, 2020, the Ministry will take a phased approach to reopening courthouses, in line with provincial direction. In phase one, the Ministry will open a total of 149 courtrooms across the province, all while allowing virtual courts to remain essential and the online system encouraged for filing.

Ontario’s justice system is definitely getting with the times, faster than anyone could imagine. A facelift was long overdue for the antiquated system. As a result, our justice system will continue to become more accessible, more responsive, more resilient and ready to serve Ontarians in the 21st century.

Mandela, Floyd, apartheid, uprisings, and unrest.

Transformational leadership is the ability of a leader to guide nations and organizations alike, focusing on a clear vision, motivation, being a change agent, and building trust. These are the cornerstones of great leadership. One such leader that comes to mind is former President of South Africa, the late, Nelson “Rolihlahla” Mandela. At a time in history when the worse form of segregation, codified into a statutory system called Apartheid, was taken place, Mandela emerged as the first-ever elected President. He dismantled the legacy of the apartheid regime, institutionalized racism, poverty and inequality. He brought diversity into government, established the truth and reconciliation commission to foster racial reconciliation, and reestablished the balance of power for land owners. What did it take for the nation’s heart transformation? It took time, people’s lives, and 27 years of imprisonment of the greatest leader of all time. 

Has history taught us anything? We read books about our famous heroes that marched for justice and equality, for the right to vote, and to have equal and fair wages, thinking that these are problems of the past: We are free now. In the 1930s, our honoured Nelson Mandela was also free. Free to get an excellent legal education, free to marry and to become the next chief. Yet, when the 22-year-old ran away to south Johannesburg, now called Soweto, he saw for the first time what the lives of native Africans were like: Confined in overcrowded shantytowns or slums, where it was insanitary, no electricity, no telephones, and poor road conditions. Police visited these slums continuously in search for vagrants. This is where Nelson’s political education began, yes, this is where the vision was birthed (BENSON, M., 1994, Nelson Mandela:The Man and the Movement, Penguin). 

May Day 1950 was when the workforce stayed home. Protesters called for the removal of the colour bar in parliament, in education, in industry and in the administration. This became the turning point in Mandela’s life because he saw first-hand the ruthlessness of the police, as well as being deeply impressed by the support African workers and Indians gave to the May Day call. “Chiefs and followers, leaders of political associations, ministers, teachers, journalists and lawyers came together from all parts of South Africa and overcame division of tribes and languages, rural and urban backgrounds” (BENSON,1994).

70 years later, May 25, 2020, an African-American was killed because a police officer knelt on his neck for over eight minutes in Minneapolis, USA. Similar ruthless police practices sparked worldwide protest, every continent, language, and government came together to protest by kneeling for change. “The fight against all forms of racism and racial discrimination remains a priority for us,” said Michael Ungern-Sternberg, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Germany to the United Nations Office at Geneva. “The past weeks, many people around the world raised their voices and took to the streets to send a clear signal that racism and excessive use of force by law enforcement officials against minority populations cannot (any) longer be accepted.” Again, has history taught us anything?

See my blog: Police Abusive Use of Force: Yatim and Floyd Case

Uprisings and protests were happening in the 1950s just as they are happening now in 2020. As the unrest of protesters and anti-apartheid leaders spread and became more effective and militarized, state organizations responded with repression and violence (BENSON, 1994). The government banned all opposition, and police officers enforced curfews, causing many anti-apartheid leaders to be imprisoned, including Mandela. Similarly, the United States chose to respond to the nationwide demonstrations after police in Minneapolis killed African American George Floyd, in a manner that undermined our fundamental rights “…the right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly,” said Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, the UN Special Rapporteur. We are watching history play over again, the police brutality and the governments adverse response to the protests.

In 1951, Mandela chose to become a change agent for his nation and his people. He was a lawyer, a founding member of the Youth League of the African National Congress (ANC), and appointed as volunteer-in-chief of the defiance campaign. “This campaign was designed to organize a large-scale resistance movement and work toward the repeal of discriminatory legislation” (JAMES, R., 2011, Nelson Mandela, Great Neck Publishing, Database: MasterFILE Premier). Mandela was arrested because he was fighting for his nation’s heart transformation. His prosecution for treason, and a lengthy prison sentence did only one thing; it bolstered Mandela’s vision for justice and equality. It was behind bars, that the transformational leader emerged. Upon his release, Mandela built the South African civil rights movement; and in 1991, became the president of the ANC, the rest is history: South Africa held its first-ever free elections on April 27, 1994. With majority of the votes given to ANC, Mandela was elected president. It was victory, not just for one race, but for an entire nation.

The death of Floyd has stirred our nation’s heart in a profound way. And it is the spirit of 46-year-old Floyd that became the transformational leader that the world desperately needed to see the vision. So, transformation requires time, people’s lives, and imprisonment. Sometimes history has to be repeated for our nations to take a stand for the vision that our beloved heroes, like Mandela stood for.

There is Hope

On this Sunday afternoon I took part in the anti-Black racism protest held at Celebration Square in Mississauga, Square One area. This is one of a sequence of protests being held around the Greater Toronto Area for Mr. George Floyd, the African American who was killed by police officers’ brutal use of force on March 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Chants of “George Floyd, say his name” and “Black Lives Matter” were heard loud and clear by over 2500 protesters, representing the Canadian melting pot; black, white, asian, brown, hijab wearers, and durag wearers alike. It was hard not to get your hearts filled, as vibrations of hope, community, love, and faith emanated through the streets of Mississauga.

Read my blog: Police Abusive Use of Force: Yatim and Floyd Case

The protest was organized by Mr. Innis Ingram, a Mississauga resident, whose best friend in grade 8 was an African Canadian girl. Ingram, a white man with ginger beard says his best friend got heckled when she was young, during the time of the Rodney King incident (an African American man who was brutally beaten by the Police in California). These were the pullings on Ingram’s heart which led him to take action. “It’s time to get off my butt and do something” says the Mississauga resident, “we want to show that Mississauga stands in solitary.” Looking around at this massive crowd peacefully marching around the downtown core, along Hurontario Street, it’s clear where the hearts and minds of the residents are.

Like Ingram and many others, it was important to me as a Jamaican woman to show my support for Floyd’s death. Feeling the immense passion of this young diverse group paints a picture of where we are going as a nation and society. This march is not only for today, it is a banner that the young will carry into their futures as they take on positions in civil and private sector. This march will influence young people to know what they believe, and take a stand for themselves and for others, in the name of justice and equality.

The signs clearly made their points: No Justice No Peace” “Racism is a Pandemic too”, “White Silence is Violence say their names”, and “Love Black People, Like You Love Black Culture.” The voices were loud and passionate in their chants. The purpose of this Mississauga protest is for policy changes against systemic racism, including the use of body-worn cameras for Peel Regional Police, for which the Mayors of Mississauga and Brampton expressed support.

Yes, these protests send out a clear message to all of us, and particularly for this generation to hear, to see, and to feel differently about racism. There is hope. The streets of Mississauga was filled with it, this Sunday afternoon on June 7, and it will be remembered for a long long time to come.

 

Police Abusive Use of Force: Yatim and Floyd Case

Who Remembers the death of Mr. Sammy Yatim? In the midst of a global pandemic and the most recent police brutality of Mr. George Floyd, it’s hard not to sit and think. Yatim, died of a similar extreme use of force by police officer, Mr. James Forcillo in July 2013. Yatim was a distressed 18-year-old in an empty Toronto streetcar, wielding a knife who was shot 9 times. Three years later, on July 2016, Forcillo was sentenced for attempted murder. This was the first time a Canadian police officer was convicted for brutal use of force, leading to death. Between 2013 and 2020, many abuse of police power had transpired, but there are some that are more sensational than others. The question is, how is our nation dealing with this issue?

Most recently, a Black man was killed by the abuse of police power in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25, 2020. Floyd, a 46-year old, father of two children, the youngest is 6 years old, moved to Minnesota from Houston, Texas to better his life. Police Officer, Mr. Derek Chauvin executed a brutal arrest procedure, by kneeling in the neck of Floyd, leading to his death. As a past Correction Officer for Young Offenders, I had been trained on the use of force techniques, and to be aware of asphyxiation. When I watched the news clip of Officer Chauvin resting his knee on Floyd’s neck, that was the first thing that came to mind. With so much adrenaline going through Floyd’s body during the arrest, he was being deprived of oxygen. Asphyxiation is worse for anyone who suffers from other illnesses, including mental health. In this case, Floyd may have been under the influence (I’m no doctor). That said, why didn’t Officer Chauvin know this?  

Here we go again. The question of police officers’ fatal use of force is up for discussion. What do we, as a nation, do about it? The Yatim family are most likely sitting in their living room, watching the news, and recalling the death of their son. Was a 6-year prison sentence enough to deter wrongful police conduct? As of January 17, 2020, Forcillo is out on parole, having served almost all of his sentence on house arrest with his loved ones. Is that fair for the Yatim’s family? Floyd’s children and most recently, a grandchild will be growing up the rest of their lives without a father and a grandfather. What will Officer Chauvin’s sentence be? Whatever it will be, it won’t be enough to wash out a system ridden with racial practices, and abuse of police power. 

Justice Edward Then, the Toronto judge in Yatim’s case stated, “Officers should only be drawing and using their firearms when they are faced with an imminent, potentially mortal threat.” The judge asked, rhetorically, “…is police training overemphasizing use of force, fatal and otherwise, in situations where the average citizen, lacking the benefit of police training, would see that force is not called for?” When an average citizen looked to see Floyd’s lifeless body on the ground, and had to ask the Officers to check the pulse, we have to sit and think. If this were another race, would Officer Chauvin have acted with such brutality?

No sentence given by the Courts of Justice is enough for crimes against police officers who fatally abuse their power against citizens, whom they are called to serve and protect. My recommendations are these: (1) Drastic review of legislations and policies are needed in our societies, pertaining to the police use of power by a designated Taskforce. (2) The police training programs ought to be seriously re-evaluated in every state. (3) A police audit should be conducted on Police forces nation wide. (4) Criminologists should be given the go-ahead to conduct research on racial profiling within the Force. (5) An apology to the families should be personally done by the chief of police every time a loved one is taken by the hands of police officers, including paying their respects at funerals. (6) Finally, the state of Minnesota ought to recognize May 25 annually by a police officers’ march.

These recommendations are a few steps to be taken to make lasting change in our nations’ Justice systems. If not, we will continue to forget martyrs like Yatim and Floyd who had to die by the hands of a police officer’s brutal use of force, leading to their deaths. Let’s not allow it to happen again.