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MORGAN: Conversation key to addressing police, racial issues
Kenneth Morgan

This is an opinion.

One of the first things I tried getting established when I first joined the Covington City Council in 2016 was a Citizen Review Board. 

At the time I think there were people taking things personally, and in doing so, I don’t think the community realized how much we really needed this in our community. 

At the time, a lot of people thought, “Are we doing the right thing?’ It wasn’t that we were doing the wrong thing. The process was, we always want to be proactive in something that we are interested in or invested in. If it’s something we’re not invested in or interested in, then it’s something we don’t want at the forefront. But if you’re going to be a leader, be a leader. If you’re going to lead, lead. Not just in one area or in areas you want to lead in. Let’s lead in all areas.

So a lot of people took it personally and the city council we had at that time and Mayor and the police department felt like it wasn’t important for us to do at this time and we were doing more than what’s required.  We even went through President Obama’s 21st century program on policing, and there was a lot of good to come out of that. But at the end of the day, to me, it was almost like they were saying, “OK, we did it, now sit down and shut up.” That was the attitude.

“Well if we can’t do Citizen Review Board, then let’s do more diversity training,” I said, “because we need diversity training throughout.” I knew we were already doing it, but I felt we needed to do it on a higher level, especially in law enforcement.

Here it is six years later. The things I tried to get done when I first joined the council are being magnified even to a greater extent now than then. So what we’re doing now should have been something that should have been done and already working throughout our community.

Now I believe there’s more distrust between police and the community more now than ever before because we have lost some valuable time and years that we can’t  regain. Now with that it has filtered into the community, it’s become an individual issue. People are choosing sides, and it should have never gotten to this point.

I think at the end of the day, every individual needs to look at themselves and realize all of us can make a change or impact our community if that’s what we choose to do. But when you do nothing, you’ve already chosen who you are and how you feel society should be.

It’s important with everything that’s going on that we see police reform, training with law enforcement and the community working together for the good of all. 

People often want to see change happen from the top down, but what they don’t realize is change doesn’t happen that way. It has to start from the bottom and work it’s way back to the top because there are to many people with too much power at the top for such change to happen. That’s why it’s important for cities and other municipalities to start this important part of legislation. It has to start with us. 

We need to start having conversations about what’s important to not just one group of people, because all lives are important to me. But at the moment in time it appears to me the only lives that seem to be impacted are Black lives. I’m not one of those who chooses sides. I want what’s right for everybody. I don’t just want justice for Black people only, I want justice for all people.  

Even with the recent conviction of the police officer in Minneapolis, it was justice, but I also see it as an injustice because we’re all suffering from it. Because as a country, we’re all grasping to try and figure out, what do we do from this point?

I respect law enforcement officers. I’m prior military. I have no problem with them. I respect everybody. But at the end of the day, I think what has to happen is that a police officer, or anyone in position of authority, needs to realize that they, too, are human. They never have to come up to me to remind me that they have authority. I know they do because they have a gun, a badge and a uniform. They have the law on their side. But the issue and the thing that you want to impress upon those officers is at the end of the day, you still need to be human. And I think at some time and some point, we’ve become everything but human.

I understand people may live in an area where they may be fearful to a certain extent, but you should never feel fearful to the extent that everybody’s your enemy.

There are some good officers that have to suffer because of what some of the bad officers are doing. But at the end of the day, we’ve got to get to the point where we can draw a line and say right is right, wrong is wrong. Somebody has to be willing to do that. And if nobody is willing to do that, no change can ever take place.

This country is more diverse and divided than it’s ever been. We’ve looked at countries and said, “Oh man, they’re crazy over there.” But now some of those same things are happening here. What are we going to do about it? What can we do to make a difference in how we relate to one another? 

I personally have no problem with anyone, and I certainly don’t want anyone to have a problem with me just because of the color of my skin or because of where I live or don’t live. At the end of the day, we’re humans. I have to go to the hospital just like you have to go to the hospital. I bleed red just like you bleed red. If I was in a situation where I needed blood I would not care one way or the other whose blood it was as long as it saves my life. I am not going to say I don’t want your blood.

Where is the median to where we can truly be honest of who we truly are?

Things today seem like it’s worse than it was in the 60s when people were struggling for equality, justice and a right to vote.

People have a right to feel the way they choose to feel, but at the end of the day, I don’t want you to do anything special for me. I just want you to respect me like you would anybody else. I don’t want to be treated differently because of the color of my skin.

It’s important that we have these conversations, and we talk about the Citizen Review Board and get this process right, because we never know what could filter through our community. 

There are some people that want it and some people that don’t want it, or feel like we’ve got the greatest police department in the world. Let me tell you there’s no such thing as the greatest police department in the world, because they’re people and where there are people there’s error.

We’ve got to blend the gap, we’ve got to come together and we’ve got to work together and be willing to do it.

We really need to talk and to discuss things that are important, and we need to have legislation after we talk that would be beneficial to everyone.

I think society has been labeled as one-sided. I think everybody knows that, but nobody wants to acknowledge it. Everybody wants to live in denial. “Oh, that doesn’t exist.” Well it does exist and you are only saying it doesn’t exist because you’re not on the side that’s being mistreated. But what if you were on the side being mistreated? How would you feel then?

While you may not be a victim today, that does not mean you won’t be a victim tomorrow.

That’s why we need to come together and have these conversations, but we can’t do it separated. We’ve got to do it together. It’s not just about you as an individual, but it’s about our community, our city, our county, our state. What type of future do you want for your children and your grandchildren?

Let’s fix these things and move forward as a community where we can grow and honor and respect each other at the end of the day, and truly be the brothers and sisters that we are supposed to be.

Kenneth Morgan is a member of the Covington City Council, representing the West Ward, Post 1.