A person holds a "Black Lives Matter" sign as as a heavy cloud of tear gas and smoke rises after being deployed by Seattle police as protesters rally against police brutality and the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Seattle, Washington, U.S. June 1, 2020. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson
White House responds to protests with rubber bullets
02:47 - Source: CNN

Editor’s Note: John Kasich is the former governor of Ohio. Nina Turner is a former Ohio state senator and co-chair of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign. The opinions expressed here are their own. Read more opinion articles at CNN.

CNN  — 

As flames rose in Minneapolis last Tuesday. and spread block by block, and then turned into violence and unrest in communities across the nation – including our home state of Ohio – many couldn’t see past the wrongful acts to the underlying factor that drove them: pain.

John Kasich
Nina Turner

As wrong as the violence, vandalism and looting was, it was also entirely foreseeable, the completely predictable boiling-over of a pot made too full and too hot from decades of white-on-black killings by police and others, perpetuated in the misguided, and prejudicial, pursuit of “security.”

This ongoing drumbeat of violence, of which George Floyd’s tragic killing was only the latest example, has no place in a country purportedly founded on liberty and justice for all. Yet, it continues, and with it so does the question many are asking – including those who rioted: What must we do to have our pain acknowledged and our complaints addressed?Being a person of color in America, particularly an African American, brings with it a fundamental risk unknown to white people in our country. Traffic stops, walks down the street, trips to the store and thousands of other routine daily activities bring with them suspicions that can often ignite actions with irreversible consequences. The stress of living with that kind of fear only rises when it is largely dismissed by the rest of society.

Though it is predictable that those whose pain and rights have been long ignored will seek increasingly stronger ways to obtain the justice and respect they deserve, it is not inevitable that violence is necessary to achieve a just resolution. The respect of listening is the most powerful antidote to alienation. In the course of listening, people of good faith often learn something they didn’t know and acting on this new knowledge to improve our communities can unleash something radically transformative: peace.

This isn’t pie-in-the-sky. It’s real and it works. We know because it worked for us.

In the wake of a series of police-related white-on-black shootings in Ohio, including the killings of John Crawford and Tamir Rice in 2014, we came together to launch the Ohio Task Force on Community-Police Relations.

Our goal was to find durable solutions to the fraught relationships between police and the communities they are meant to protect in order to safeguard the rights of all Ohioans. A diverse, experienced and committed leadership group traveled the state listening to anyone and everyone with a view to share.

These perspectives were then translated into recommendations which became Ohio’s first-ever statewide standards for police departments governing the use of force, recruiting, community integration and data collection on race.

Ensuring the recommendations lived on through action, the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board was created to implement the Task Force’s recommendations.

The collaborative still operates today as a diverse group of Ohioans committed to building trust through the development of certification standards for law enforcement agencies.

Perhaps the most impactful change in the policing system has been the development of crucial standards to guide the interactions between officials and the community – such as guidelines for the use of force. Now, hundreds of Ohio law enforcement agencies have been recertified in these standards. This allows community members to have peace of mind and a sense of optimism when interacting with the police.

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    No one should take up violence to advance their cause. Nor should anyone need to. We should all be able to turn to our system of justice to receive the protections we deserve. Yes, we’ve got problems, but our system can work if leaders have the will and courage to simply acknowledge the pain of injustice, listen and then act.

    As Ohio continues to work on improving the way communities and police work together for peace and prosperity, there will inevitably be challenges. Our state is well positioned, however, to navigate them because of the Collaborative infrastructure that continually builds trust.

    People are respected because they are heard, solutions are forged and actions are taken. In the end, everyone benefits, not just members of the minority communities, because justice has an individual and collective benefit. Ending violence is a goal that’s attainable by leaders when they have the courage and compassion to act in the best interest of those they serve.