Courageous Conversation – Action on Racial Reconciliation

The topics for discussion will be 1) The murder of George Floyd 2) “Defunding the police” (more briefly).  We will run out of time, so we will continue our conversations next month – July 27.  The following are possibilities. We will ask you for your input at the end of the session on Monday.  (But please limit our conversation to the two topics that have been chosen.)

Kerner Commission Report

Black Lives Matter

Defunding the Police

Peaceful Protest vs. Rioting and Looting

The Militarization of the Police

The Proposed Justice in Policing Act

What’s Next


RESOLUTION NO.                                                                AGENDA NO.                                   



                                            ROCK COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS




Criminal Justice Coordinating Council



Public Safety & Justice Committee




Randy Terronez



June 4, 2020



Condemning George Floyd Death, Supporting Peaceful Demonstrations, and Calling for Action on Racial Reconciliation



WHEREAS, on May 25, 2020, George Floyd died at the hands of four members of the Minneapolis Police Department, violating his civil rights and violating his humanity, that was videotaped by concerned bystanders showing the tragic final minutes of George Floyd’s life; and,


WHEREAS, George Floyd’s death came shortly after two other highly publicized deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, which leave our communities overwhelmed with grief, heartsick over the inhumanity, and represent a blatant disregard for the dignity and sanctity of human life; and,


WHEREAS, these incidents serve as another example of the ever-present inequality in our country that is also revealed in the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 epidemic has had on people of color, and the resulting unemployment-economic hardship on people of color; and,


WHEREAS, the nation needs a change in race-relations, from a culture that teaches a white woman walking her dog in Central Park that a racially-motivated call to law enforcement is a weapon she can use to enforce her own preferred social code, to a culture that values and respects the diverse communities in our society; and,


WHEREAS, we support the peaceful demonstrations and protests held in Rock County (and around the country and the world), and acknowledge the justifiable anger and frustration, that raise awareness of the Floyd killing and related racial disparity; and,


WHEREAS, the actions of these four officers do not represent the thousands of men and women that serve and protect their respective communities with the highest level of professionalism, but their actions do impact the relationships between those communities and their police departments.


Now, Therefore, be it Resolved that the Rock County Board of Supervisors, duly assembled this _____ day of __________, 2020, does hereby condemn the killing of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis Police Department officers.


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the County acknowledges the existence of systemic racism both nationally and within Rock County, and that the County will hold accountable anyone within the County systems practicing bias and perpetuating systemic racism.


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Rock County calls for national law enforcement standards regarding inappropriate use of force, procedural justice, and implicit bias training, and supports ongoing dialogue regarding improvements to law enforcement operations that demonstrate the value of human life and recognize the role of trauma.


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the County with the Rock County Diversity Action Team, NAACP Beloit Branch, and other interested community organizations actively participate and promote county-wide dialogue regarding racism and the history of race in the nation in order to reconcile over 400 years of systemic oppression.


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the County Clerk be requested to send copies of this resolution to the County’s state and federal legislative delegation, Governor Evers, and the Wisconsin Counties Association.


Rock County Board resolution amendment


“Be It Further Resolved That the Rock County Board will work to establish a plan to address systemic/structural racism in Rock County that would include adopting set metrics to measure racial disparities in our county and pledge to work to reduce those disparities.”


Proposed by Steve Howland, unanimously accepted by the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council on June 18, 2020.

Not official until passed by the Rock County Board.



Leonard Pitts, printed in the Janesville Gazette, June 12, 2020

For two weeks, now, outrage has convulsed America: pundits, preachers, protesters and at least one “severely conservative” GOP senator all raising their voices to condemn police brutality.

Yet, here’s the startling truth: No one has made a stronger case against the police than the police.

There is not space enough to talk about it all—the disoriented man tasered for no apparent reason in Fairfax County, Virginia; the Kansas City cops who pepper-sprayed a crowd and threw a man to the street after he yelled at them; the Denver police who unleashed a hail of pepper balls on a car after the driver told them his passenger was pregnant—but one incident stands out. You’ve seen the video by now. A 75-year-old man, Martin Gugino, approaches a phalanx of Buffalo, New York, police in front of City Hall. Two of them shove him. He flies backward and tumbles to the pavement.

Then it gets worse. The old man lies still, blood pooling beneath his head. One officer pauses as if to check on him only to have another pull him away. The officers who shoved Gugino are now facing criminal charges. In response, all 57 members of the city’s riot squad quit the unit, displaying a petulance so infantile it would not be out of place in a preschool sandbox.

And here’s the kicker: The police union in Brevard County, Florida, offered to hire the 57 Buffalo cops, promising on Twitter that in Florida they’d find “no spineless leadership, or dumb mayors rambling on at press conferences. … Plus … we got your back!”

Consider it all a middle finger lifted to the idea that cops are answerable to the communities they serve. Consider it a microcosm of what is wrong with modern policing.

How can you look at this sort of behavior, which is happening everywhere, and not read in it a sense of invulnerable arrogance, of authority unquestioned and unquestionable? Power without accountability is tyranny, plain and simple. Yet how tempting tyranny must be when you are shielded in your malfeasance by the deference of courts and politicians, by unions that make it nearly impossible to get rid of, or even meaningfully discipline, lawless cops, and by the infamous blue wall of silence, a code of omerta that would do Tony Soprano proud.

So shall we “defund the police,” to quote what has become a liberal rallying cry? Well, the slogan is obviously designed less to foster consensus than confrontation. But the idea behind it seems self-evident. Namely, that we must tear down the old model of policing and, as Camden, New Jersey, did to great success seven years ago, build something better in its place, something that actually does “protect and serve”—and uphold and improve—our communities.

And here, someone wants me to note that not all cops are bad. Hearing that, I’m reminded of a young man to whom I made that argument maybe 20 years ago. The man, who had been punched in the face while handcuffed, responded that he saw not a lot of difference between the cops who did bad things to him and those who allowed it by looking the other way, more loyal to one another than to what is right. How, he demanded, can they be called good cops?

It’s a question that resonates as you watch that Buffalo officer who started to help an injured man allow himself to be pulled away instead. Required in an instant to choose between being human and being a cop, he chose the latter, and they walked on by.

“How can they be called good cops?” I could not answer the young man’s question back then.

And I still can’t answer it now.