Should is a powerful word.
It carries pressure, judgment, and responsibility. It pushes us to reject the status quo and demand more. It’s heavy with discomfort.
George Floyd should be alive.
But three years ago today, on May 25, 2020, he became the victim of police brutality, on 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in South Minneapolis, in a nation that criminalizes poverty, substance use, and mental illness. A nation gripped by a crisis of over-criminalizing and a two-tiered system of justice that favors the white and wealthy.
Three years after the murder of George Floyd, we should feel more distance between the America that allowed this to happen and the America we are today. But we don’t.
It will take more than training programs, corporate pledges, and performative allyship to silence the “should.” Our criminal justice system is in desperate need of reimagining if we ever hope to advance justice, equity, and true safety in our communities.
It’s been three years since he took his last breath, and police officers in America continue to kill about three people a day. Legislation to bring real accountability to law enforcement, in the form of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, has failed to advance since it was passed by the Democrat-controlled U.S. House in 2021. This measure would ban no-knock warrants in certain cases while cracking down on controversial tactics, like the choke hold.
We can’t wait for leaders at the national–or state–level to dismantle these systemic issues. That’s why, for the past three years, Harris County has been reimagining what our role can be by launching community-focused violence intervention programs, identifying and cleaning up public nuisances, investing in community services, and breaking the cycle of incarceration that fuels generational poverty.
Instead of criminalizing a person’s crisis, our Holistic Assistance Response Team (HART) initiative sends trained first responders to assist people struggling with mental health, substance use, or homelessness so they can receive the help they need. Instead of over-criminalizing neighborhoods, we partner with credible messengers to stop crime before it happens through the Community Violence Interruption Program. These efforts acknowledge that racism is a public health crisis, and the only way forward is by addressing the root causes of poverty, violence, crime, and police brutality.
In Harris County, we believe in justice for all. And we will continue pushing to create a county that lives these values.