Fifty-years ago today, racists Alabama State troopers and a posse in Selma, Alabama, spilled the blood of civil rights activists on the Edmund Pettus Bridge along United States(US) Highway 80 giving rise to "Bloody Sunday".
Activists, including now US Congressman John Lewis, had gathered some 600 strong in a proposed match from Selma to the Alabama State Capitol building to advocate the passage of the Voting Rights Act that would give Blacks in America the opportunity and protection to vote freely.
State-supported racist renegades confronted and attacked the peaceful marchers with clubs and tear gas on the bridge leaving Selma. Many activists including John Lewis and Amelia Boynton, who was beaten unconscious, were bloodied in the attack. Some 17 were hospitalized and 40 arrested. Video of the violent attack on peaceful non-violent activists was shown around the World. On March 25, 1965, 25,000 rights activists reached the State Capitol building in Montgomery, Alabama. The Voting Rights Act was passed later in 1965.
That was then; this is now - 2015; and as US President Barack Obama, Congressman John Lewis, Attorney General Eric Holder and many others mark the anniversary of that violent blemish upon US history today in Selma, Alabama, they do so against a background of a recent disturbing trend of the shooting of unarmed Black men and minorities by police.
From Ferguson, Missouri to New York City, New York to Madison, Wisconsin as recent as within the last 24 hours, too many unarmed minorities have fallen to police bullets. Efforts to remedy this disturbing trend by the US Justice Department continue, yet a cessation of such tragedies appear far from a reality.
However, a consensus remains that immediate action is necessary. This past week at the Brooking Institution in Washington, DC, academics Jeffrey Fagan, of Columbia University Law School; Naomi Murakawa of Princeton University and Fredrick Harris of Columbia University; joined by Delroy Burton of the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Union; all agreed that a form of action was needed to stem the disturbing tide. From greater police diversity, enhanced training, transparency, specialization, accountability, review and protection for whistle blowers within police departments, were among the actions suggested.
Whatever are the final decisions, changes to American policing to stem racist events are paramount to ensuring the continuity of this democracy with one explicit fact in mind: there must never be another "Bloody Sunday".