The Need for Action on Policing and Racial Justice after Baton Rouge

At this moment of grief, fear, and frustration in the United States, the Open Society Foundations stand committed to solidarity and justice. The killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Philando Castile in Minnesota, and five police officers in Dallas in the last two weeks had already plunged the country back into a tense debate about racism and police use of force. The killing of three officers in Baton Rouge on Sunday has raised the stakes for everyone. There is danger everywhere, even as we are in mourning, and no one can stay above the fray.

In moments like these, it is difficult to see a path forward or even to find words to convey the turmoil of thoughts. But at least three things seem clear:

First, peaceful protests are the opposite of violence, not the cause of violence. In earlier years, indeed for decades past, police shootings like those of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile might well have sparked riots, but instead we’ve seen a deluge of social media and lots of peaceful protest. The Dallas and Baton Rouge shootings were each an aberrant response of a single individual targeting white police officers. We must help everyone understand that the protests are the opposite of the violence. It is imperative that no one blame peaceful protesters for violence.

Second, in this atmosphere it is even easier for routine encounters between police officers and people of color to go bad. There are literally thousands of those encounters every day across the United States, and we need to do everything possible to keep every encounter safe and respectful. Protesters and police will be especially on edge, and all need reassurance that these individual incidents are isolated and aberrational. We need shows of solidarity across these lines, even as the peaceful protests and professional police work continue.

Third, this is everybody’s issue. All of the United States is affected today by the racially polarized rhetoric and violent reactions that jeopardize the lives of activists, police officers, and everyone of color.

There will not be any one answer to close the longstanding divide between black America and American policing. The hostility and distrust is still today the legacy of slavery, the legacies of Jim Crow, of lynching, of the repression of the civil rights and black power movements, the legacy of the war on drugs. But today the resulting biases have metastasized, spreading throughout American society. At the very least, we must stop this cancer spreading.

To do that, we need to engage everyone, including those in law enforcement. American police officers are not a monolith, and while all are feeling the pain of the Dallas and Baton Rouge shootings, many are also determined to reduce the violence in American policing, end the racial disparities, and build mutual trust.

The Open Society Foundations today are investing in a three-part strategy: supporting local activists, supporting reformers within law enforcement, and building a new institution to bridge national resources and expertise with local energy and commitment. We are making an immediate investment to help provide rapid response funding to cities experiencing protests in the face of incidents of police violence, to create a fund to assist protesters arrested for participating in peaceful civil disobedience, and to provide support for local police accountability campaigns. And we continue to look for other ways to support and partner with those seeking solutions. We know that the road to real reform will be long and treacherous, and that there are sure to be further tragedies along the way. But we will do all we can.

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Thank you so very much for doing this. Like many of us, I feel the desperate need to mobilize the platform of my organization and our assets to make a positive solution here. We train people in creative problem solving and collaboration. I would love to talk to someone at Open Society about how we might bring this training to this critical social issue. I have convened a subcommittee with my organization to discus what we might be able to do. I would love to chat more.

The Dallas shooting was an aberration, the Baton Rouge shooting was something entirely different. . . and it has caught my attention. I believe there will be more before your good works get any notice.

I am a retired LAPD Deputy Chief of Police. I agree with your manifesto. I will do anything to help. I am currently a member of the Board of Directors of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. We are presently re-directing our efforts toward Criminal Justice Reform and the many harms that have come from the drug war. In addition, I live in Long Beach CA and have worked many years to expose the corrupted policing in our city, to promote transparency and accountability, which are nearly absent. My police accountability campaign has been individual, mostly though exposure via a small newspaper that allows me to submit bi-weekly column. I am very interested in expanding that activity though public records requests, research and legal actions.

We all need all the support we can get/give now and in the future. A place to talk, understand, express, love and heal. A safe place where people can feel free to talk about the pain of discrimination, injustice and death. Supporting the facilitation of an Emotional Emancipation circles is a great start.


We will be glad to engage our national network of women state legislators in this effort as well.

Enough with the rhetoric, marches, protests, t-shirts, chants, and boycotts. It's time to get down to work and copying all of the Public Relations successes of the sixties alone isn't going to get us there. And neither will further violence or angry talk. I am sorry if this is offensive to some. But consider this. The reason for the success in the sixties is because not only was this the first time in history the struggle was televised and the horrors were broadcast around the world, embarrassing Lady Liberty. Or because the blood shed and powerful images could break any human heart regardless of race. It was successful because the spokesperson for the movement worked with a team of others to draft and have at the ready, a law changing plan on how to correct the problem.

Of course today, we've witnessed the whole police shooting issue played out on TV and social media night after night and similarly it truly is appalling. And, I'm sure it is a sensitive topic for American leaders at the International dinner table. Still mirroring ONLY the civil discourse portions of the movement won't get us the change we are seeking.

What will? First we need a list of actionable demands. "Black lives matter" is a chant supporting a new movement, but not legislatable action. The Civil Rights Movement was successful because once the cameras were off, and the nation wanted to prevent future unrest and further embarrassment, Civil Rights leaders stood ready with actionable plans in hand. They were pushing a legislative agenda.... a change, modification, addition and clarification to our LAWS and the US Constitution. The Civil Rights movement was not just an exercise of our free speech and assembly rights. Leaders of that time did not just lead us across the bridge into a standoff with police or wait on the other side to come up with a plan we like. The movement was able to march beyond the streets to the conference table with viable, written, legally-researched and sound ammunition. When they were summoned for talks, they were prepared, lawyered-up with constitutional law geniuses, and ready to make that moment, that opportunity, purposeful. In that case the purpose was affecting lasting laws that mandated a change in behavior.

That is the portion of the movement that is most important to mirror. If we want police forces and police officers to act differently, it won't happen through a department policy or sensitivity training. It will only happen with laws that effect their freedoms and their pockets and the pockets of the department. And that legislative option will only make it to the table if we bring it!!!

To the commenter looking for actionable solutions, young protesters under the banner of #blacklivesmatter have developed a frequently updated, widely quoted set of actionable legislative and policy proposals that can be found at These proposals have found their way into the recommendations of the DOJ and others who are grappling in earnest with the issue of extrajudicial police killings. I hope you will make it a point to inform yourself more completely about the work these (and other) young people are doing.

Yes let us build a people friendly police refoming all the illusion based social development system. A open society movement creating a platform of harmony and peaceful co-existence is very simple matter. It needs only understanding of science and art living. I sought the fellowship in open society forndation for a collaborative movement. Dr K N N

International Youth Organization based in Newark,N.J. wants to partner with you.(45 years working with at risk youth)

All life is precious, honorable and just.

Many in neighborhoods of color, applaud the initiatives you are attempting to launch, in response to escalating
racial and inter-racial (let's not forget, black on black crime. However, I thing people of less color need to consider that this eruption of violence goes well beyond policing. The police, unfortunately, for many in neighborhoods of color, simply represent an historically oppressive, discriminatory, and blatantly hypocritical system of public/private offenders. Police becoming visible targets, encouraged by the, seemingly, random murders of black citizens, has simply unleashed pent up frustrations morphed into outrageous anger. As a person and family experiencing collateral damage from
the HOPKINS/EBDI urban redevelopment project, many in my hood could speak volumes concerning whether we think any of the powers that be in this city actually care about closing the gap between the Haves/the Have Nots.....we are very disillusioned by the number of young white folks who are being funded to transition into our neighborhoods with $'s from folks like your org to " rescue our children, and youth." You folks need to examine your own roles contributing to apathy and violence in our folks have been intervening in our own hoods for years....with No funding nor support from you good folks. NOW, you think that we think that you are Finally capable of some real solutions? Why is it that you folks are just realizing that people of color are tired of the okey doke?

Please continue your efforts. I'm ashamed to live in a society that still represses African-Americans and that has an attitude of supporting police at any cost to its citizens.

I have the best program for ending racism. I want to
work with the open society Foundations. Please
contact me. Racism has to go now!
Thank you very much! Carl Banks Jr.

God bless you!

A thoughtful article which does not go unappreciated, we need more of this!

Safe peaceful protest is necessary for democracy.

Взять опыт, который был при СССР.

Seeking support to host National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL) Law Enforcement Accountability Project (LEAP) forum-Town Hall Teach In at our Baton Rouge, LA church.

We continue to provide rapid response mentoring and resources for youth/teens/families in peaceful protesting.

Wesley Church/New Situations, Inc/NCBL collaborative seeks support to provide Know Your Rights/Know Your Resources training to activists and attorneys/law students: beyond civil rights to human rights, legal observers, trauma, truth & reconciliation. Please advise.
Thank you

May we rise above this negativity and draw out the good in each other so that our children may inherit a world where hatred and distrust are a thing of the past.

Racism seem not to end especially in areas where slavery ended. But still here in africa we are also losing our loved ones due to political fights and too much road accidents. We pray for each other.

These issues are vitally important and it is great that the Open Society Foundation is seeking means to address these, through local civil society organisations working with others.

However, as the recent death in police custody of Mzee Mohammed sadly illustrates, these issues are not confined to the United States of America. Will you open the support of the Open Society Foundation to other places?

Am adding my voice because I want to stop gun violence our freedom is not use to kill people but to save people and make the world a better place

-police must have survelliance satellites
-increase plain cloth policemen
-no guns allowed to civilains

the killers must be subjected to justice or killed

Not all the killings are thought to be racist, but even if they were, the fact that a racist attacker killed someone of an unintended race suggests that killing is the only common factor. One wonders that if guns were taken out of this situation fewer people might be killed? If fewer people were killed there would be fewer and smaller protests and less likelihood of people being in danger let alone killed.

I think it is high time to explore all angles to defuse the tension and work hard to enhance understanding and build trust between communities and those engaged in law enforcement.



tel+256 712 718268

There has to be something done about black men being killed by law enforcement we can not live in a society where this is the normal.Justice must be for all not just those with money or connected to a group or party.We have better laws to protect animals than humans now I'm no scholar but there is something wrong here and a change must come not later but now,if not we don't have a country we have a lawless society.

White people were killed twice as often by police in 2015. It's mostly poor people not just black people. Wake up, the war is on the poor people no matter the color. The race issue is to separate us by keeping people's focus off the bigger issue. The current finacial system will most likely collapse unless they find a way to reset the debt like they did for the car manufaturers and the tax bailout to the big banks. To big to fell is not free market. Its now setup to protect wealth and hold the poorer population in its place. Heroin wasnt a problem until it started to hit the main population because of overprescribing of opiates and opiods. Wealth is transferring to poorer groups one way or another. So a new drug war will hit the poorer groups. On a sparate topic a Basic Income for all may naturally solve many issues. Outside of basic Income making a more fair economic system then the UN suggests reparations but then again everyone is from Africa no matter how they came to be here in the USA.

There have been so many shootings of Black men by white police officers that it is easy to lose count and to forget the names of the fallen victims. Each fatal shooting is followed-up with the same specious and bogus police reports detailing the necessary use of deadly force to defend, protect and uphold the law. Furthermore, there should be a clarion call for Black men and young Black men in America to engage in ongoing mental health activity to reduce stress levels and to enhance their state of psychological well-being. I also believe every young Black male should be screened to assess levels of “pre-traumatic stress disorders.” We must find innovative and effective methods to enhance and develop a unique set of coping skills and adaptive devices needed for Black men and young Black men to survive and thrive in a very peculiar and hostile environment.

The gifted, exceptional writer and journalist, Ta-Nehisi Coates has written a superb and powerful book, Between the World and Me, which has become for me, and countless other Black men and women in America, countervailing therapy to mitigate the unrelenting lethal and deadly blows to Black bodies in America. His book is a must read for those individuals that are seeking to understand the insidious effects of police shootings and white aggression in America. Coates’ book comes at a time when celebrations are being held to collect donations for policemen that have been charged with murdering Black men. To add insult to injury, we see and hear about the incorporating of this bizarre behavior by policemen into storied traditions of yesteryear and the shrugging of shoulders as if this behavior is within the law and necessary to preserve and protect the public. How does white America really think we should feel about this? What is the end result of this violent bigotry and what are the psychological consequences of white aggression.

Coates’ revelatory admonition to Black people – especially Black fathers/young men and mothers in particular and to America in general is not the first time that the issues he raised in his book have been presented to this society. Unfortunately, Americans have developed a high skill in the art of ignoring Black messengers – even when they are as eloquently persuasive as Coates, James Baldwin and Dr. Michael Eric Dyson; or brilliantly compelling as Malcolm X, Randall Robinson, Haki Madhubuti and Michelle Alexander; or as saintly convincing as Drs. W.E.B. DuBois, M.L.K. King, Cornell West and Toni Morrison.
Black lives do matter; however, too many Black lives are snuffed out by bigoted white policemen, which is unacceptable. Moreover, the majority of Black men and women in America support and are in lock step with the goals of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, and that we must remain vigilant and unapologetic in the emphasizing of Black lives, Yes, we acknowledge that all lives matter, and that we have serious work to do in the Black community in Baltimore City, and across this nation, to arrest the misdirected and senseless killings that plague our communities, but no other group of men and women in America are subject to the same level of unjust profiling and fatal actions by the police. This truism, which is powerfully illuminated by Ta-Nehisi Coates, is an unequivocal fact. Today’s reality-as terrible and frightening as it is – must not be minimized or misjudged by Black men, women or young Black men, because to quote Coates, “each time a police officer engages us, death, injury and maiming is possible.”
Everyone is responsible for what happens going forward. Those that are prosperous and “privileged” most speak out and those who have been ignored for so long and left with so little must speak up. Everyone must be held accountable! To “get it right” this time, there must be a change in the “racial justice” algorithm to account for true transparency, accountability, evaluation, measurable socio-economic progress and serious legal/economic consequences for bad outcomes and poor decisions

My friend Richard Rowe makes a compelling case to break through the same-old, same-old reactions to circumstance that represents a frequency enough and historic roots to become a modern new paradigm about cause and effect. Funding knee-jerk responses is either superfluous or otherwise ineffective. We need to create, fund and energize collective actions geared to individualized results. The sum then may result in the whole of its parts. There also is unlikely to meet success without a deliberate focus upon affecting the underlying sense and belief that some people are superior and more entitled than others.

We are a country in trouble when the entire criminal justice system is bias when it cimes to race. Justice is not equal, and never protecting those that cannot protect themselves. I wilk continue to fight for racial equality, and equal justice in America.

Well written and much needed piece for peace.

For the record, I am a white male living in the New Orleans Metro area of Louisiana and I too have experienced profiling by law enforcement officers. Profiling is not always a Black/White issue it is based on statistics.
After Katrina my children and their mother were displaced to New Hebron, MS. So my one way trip was 184 miles and needless to say I went as frequently as possible. I was pulled over on a regular basis by mostly MS State Troopers for overly trivial reasons and subjected to unjustified searches, questions and sometimes downright harassment. But, I still did a few things to make them know beyond a doubt that I was not a threat, which I'm sure would not have ended well in a couple of instances if I would have taken it personally.

I learned by watching a program about police profiling training and how it pertains to drug trafficking. (I'll skip the details to make the point.) I was being profiled because statistical evidence proved that among all the thousands of routine traffic stops, I fell into that profile "sweet spot" that produces the most drug busts. It sucks, but it's a fact. So what is poor little me supposed to do about this? Good thing the program went on to explain what I should do.

The State Trooper in the program explained how to make a routine traffic stop as painless as possible (no sick pun intended) and I believe these suggestions will save lives if used.

1st of all, have your license registration, and insurance on the dashboard along with your keys in plain sight before the cop even gets out of his car.
2nd have your hands out the window palms up and open so it is obvious that you are no surprise threat.
3rd be respectful and kind.
4th my additional sproceedure , when possible have a cellphone /videocam proped up recording and inform the officer kindly, that to insure no misunderstandings that you are recording the procedure.

If the cop has no fears of you being a threat, then he has no reason to make rash decisions. As for the unlucky ones that get a bad cop, this advice case save your life. You can file a formal report later and the amount of complaints a cop builds up and then the questionable encounters will eventually make its own case.

One thing for sure, murdering innocent cops is not going to make it better

We can offer our voice, but we need the financial resorces to move the challenges we face. Otherwise all we have is just a voice. It's evident our voice has gone nowhere. We needd help and support to fight for those that cant fight for themselves.

We need to establish a clear cut arrangement to retrain the police on the rules of engagement. The communities should also be sensitized and made to understand the role of the police. Once there is mutual trust then the unnecessary killings and confrontation leading to police brutality will stop.

How is this three-part strategy being carried out? How does an organization apply for funds?

When is Louisiana sentencing laws going to be reformed and when is correctional facilities going to be used for correction and reform to equip humans with what they need to be better citizens fit for society and then released? Louisiana has a real live slave plantation "Angola" 30 minutes from East Baton Rouge where so many inmates are actually innocent, yet sentenced to life because of a miscarriage of justice. Gary Lavon Valentine, who is a Federal Convicted Felon, and ordered by a Federal Judge in the U.S. 26th Western District in Shreveport La. to never practice in law enforcement again because of his racial interactions in making blacks make false confessions was working in the 26th District Court in Webster Parish in 1995 and repeated the same thing after doing this for over 20 plus years, Webster Parish 26th District Court gave Gary Lavon Valentine his success again in sending another innocent human to prison for life simply because after a month after the crime was committed, the Sheriff made a statement that their office was no further along in the investigation than the 1st day they stepped foot on the crime scene. The hot and pressure was on the Sheriff's department to solve the crime, so they had to find someone, they framed the yard boy.

It was a very horrible incident. What makes uncompromising sides to come together and live in peace is "recognizing the humanity and importance of one another and identifying elements that causes differences that may bring hostility and above all people should be able to say sorry and seek for forgiveness from the bottom of their hearts".

I have read many of your comments and most of you refer to racism, and young black men dying at the hands of police officers.
Since when did just "black lives matter"? I personally think ALL lives matter.
Its pretty simple, "listen". Do what the police tell you. I'm sure NOT ONE of those police officers just walked up and shot any of them without warning or altercation. None of us know the situation nor were we there. We're quick to judge based on what we see and think. All of us have had some type of contact with police at some point in our lives. We're not dead, we haven't been shot. Why??? Because we listened and did what was instructed of us. So why are we quick to judge certain instances. Because a white officer shots a black man? If "black lives" matter so much, where's the uproar when a black man shots another black man. Is that to just be expected? Is that the norm? Is that common? Or is that just excepted? A black Cleveland Police Officer shoots a black teen. Media coverage lasted all of 2 days. Where were the protest for that? Where were the black lives matter chants for that? Where was the hands up rallies? There were none. Why? Because it couldn't be labeled as racism.
As for racism, well its not racism, its a heart issue. Jesus died on the cross so we could ALL be forgiven. Call upon his name and you too shall be forgiven. By the way the "ALL" mentioned above means ALL (black, white, Latino, Asian, Indian, Hindu, Muslim, whatever). Racism is only in your hearts.
The BIBLE is packed full of life's lessons. Just read and follow directions that have stood for centuries. May God be with you and GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!!!

I do not believe America is racist though there are racist of all colors in America. Our police are combined of the American people. If racism was of no benefit to those in power, that it does not effect, racism would not exist. It has never been about race, it's about the haves and the have nots, those that desire control. Why are "peaceful" protesters inciting unstable people before facts of police shootings are even examined. Why does the media show such bias in reporting? Why do you not care when an unarmed white man is shot under similiar circumstances? Why would anyone want to control the actions of the people of the world with mis leading info for sake of thier own agenda? In nature for every action there is a reaction and this can not be pre empted, so it is even after our very finite time in this life. Very few are capable of aultrusism but it does exist. If your founder should be interested in barter I would exchange an oil portrait of said founder for a conversation with the same.

"The Dallas and Baton Rouge shootings were each an aberrant response of a single individual targeting white police officers. We must help everyone understand that the protests are the opposite of the violence." You forgot to mention New York City,Houston, Kansas City, San Diego. etc. When we have over 650,000 police why can't these killing of black man be looked at on a individual case as you pointed out about the police shootings? Yes some may have racist under tones, however those officers will be punished! You can't help but notice in many of these cities the Police Chiefs are black! Not once in your article did you discuss if there could be any no respect given to authority! This too has to be addressed! Keep up the rhetoric and you will have blue blood on your hands! Before you can state there is a problem, really look at the equation! Put your money where your mouth is...I dare you to drive around with police officers in some of these areas and see what they have to face.Maybe it's the training, fear, etc. Please proof me wrong...because I really want to see things better! Remember two sides to every story! Lets get both stories out!

Your efforts will stand on deaf ears. The problem is a lack of respect and the belief that questioning authority is OKAY! As long as there is respect, there will be confidence in all. Philander Castile and Alton Sterling and many others, have not been party to "police violence". They disobeyed orders. There were weapons found on both! Is it not right, in your organizations eyes for the officer to protect him/herself? Should they stand back and wait to see what happens??? NO! They have split seconds to make a life or death decision. When you have problems with drugs, sex trafficking, communities, other things follow.... A massive lack of respect for law enforcement. All the black community has to do is COMPLY with an officer when they are stopped. Cooperate and either they are let go or if there is reason, they will be taken into custody. Remember, the officers don't make the laws....the government does. They simply enforce the laws that are out into place. If you break a law (and we all know right from wrong) you should expect to be arrested if you are stopped. Rather, the actions of those stopped are far from cooperative. Your efforts are directed at the wrong problem. I would like some communication in return as I want my children growing up in a safe country/world. Thank you.

BLM is nothing more then a cult causing strife and discord among the brethren; if they REALLY wanted to make positive change for the dirt poor people of our nation, they would be on the ground in the communities building houses repairing schools helping law enforcement get drugs off the street, not walking around carrying signs with horrible nasty slogans and causing all kinds of strife among people everywhere

Dealing with racism is critical to global peace. Racism in the new world seeps through all global transactions including trade and aid. If we do not begin to acknowledge the costs of racism we will be too far gone to even know ourselves as a human race. Remember that racism is not about the color of one's skin but rather the establishment and exercise of power and control over resources. Racism, inequality and exclusion are not sentiments but rather true and volatile violations on human rights of people. We must be as practical in ending racism as in ending war otherwise this constant seen and unseen war rages on.

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