The resignation of Attorney General Eric Holder is met with both pride and disappointment by the Civil Rights community. We are proud that he has been the best Attorney General on Civil Rights in U.S. history and disappointed because he leaves at a critical time when we need his continued diligence most.
From racial profiling and being pulled over just for 'driving while black' to this new phenomenon of killing unarmed people out of some preconceived idea of fear, our lives and our children's lives are not being valued.
When people discuss the 1960s and the great Civil Rights Era, they often speak in romantic terms as if there wasn't immense work put in, and as if there wasn't immense sacrifice that took place. But none of those battles were easily fought and won; there were sustained movements behind them.
Either we need to redefine what probable cause means and say that police are not subject to it, or we arrest officers right away just as we would with any other person accused of committing a crime. Either we write new laws or enforce existing ones; we cannot have it both ways.
I could have easily been a statistic. Growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y., it was easy - a little too easy - to get into trouble. Surrounded by poor schools, lack of resources, high unemployment rates, poverty, gangs and more, I watched as many of my peers fell victim to a vicious cycle of diminished opportunities and imprisonment.
Countries around the world have their own immigration laws and methods of dealing with a recurring theme: desperate people searching for peace from volatile parts of the world. And nations everywhere thrive and prosper from the contributions of immigrants and the children of immigrants - including right here in the U.S.
In 1999, I was in St. Louis with Martin Luther King III as we led protests against the state's failure to hire minority contractors for highway construction projects. We went at dawn on a summer day with over a thousand people and performed acts of civil disobedience.
When you loot or behave violently, you give grounds to those that try to justify illegal police abuse. You become the poster child for them to say, 'See, we have no choice but to shoot and kill, or use a chokehold, because just look at the way they behave.'
In New York, you are competing with Times Square lights and all of that, so you've got to be 300 pounds and crazy to get anyone's attention. Then, you can refine yourself. I always knew under those 300 pounds and tracksuits was a refined, slim, dignified man.
In Staten Island, when you have video showing the alleged chokehold used on Eric Garner, why not go to trial and have the officer(s) explain the tape, and then this jury can determine guilt or innocence? The tape should guarantee that there should be a trial.
As a preacher who has spent significant time in churches and houses of worship all across the country, I can tell you firsthand that religious liberty and freedom are principles that can never be infringed upon.
Let me be clear: as I have said repeatedly, I do not believe that all police officers are bad, nor do I believe that most are bad. But there must be a transparent, impartial and fair system to judge those that engage in criminal or unethical acts.
There's no reason why children in inner cities or rural areas do not receive the same quality education or opportunities as those in suburbs or wealthy neighborhoods. If we truly believe in giving all citizens a chance to pursue happiness and pursue their goals, then we cannot continue to marginalize entire groups of people.
Demonstrations must be dignified and nonviolent, as the overwhelming protests in Ferguson and Staten Island have been. Do not confuse anarchists who don't want the system to work and thugs who want to exploit a situation with the majority who from day one have operated with impeccable nonviolence and clear goals.
Civilians are arrested every single day - including innocent ones - and they must wait until their day in court in order to argue their side of the story. Police officers must be subjected to the same rules.
I was raised by a single mother who made a way for me. She used to scrub floors as a domestic worker, put a cleaning rag in her pocketbook and ride the subways in Brooklyn so I would have food on the table. But she taught me as I walked her to the subway that life is about not where you start, but where you're going. That's family values.
In Ferguson, there are witnesses who say Brown had his hands up when he was shot. That should be enough probable cause to go to trial to then determine if Officer Wilson is guilty or not. It is at trial that he can then defend himself and his attorneys can present their own witnesses and their own defense.