Darkness cannot drive out darkness: A Conversation Piece

“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the wake of deadly attack on Dallas police officers and the death of two African Americans by law enforcement we are left in a state of shock and mourning. Violence to address violence is not a solution that will ease tensions, heal the families whom have suffered loss, or comfort the communities shaken by the events of the last week.

To have difficult conversations first we must learn the facts and acknowledge the dangers of generalizing any group of people. It must be acknowledged that police officers serve and Candleprotect communities across the nation and that any attack on an officer is inexcusable.  It must also be acknowledged that there is a disparity in the enforcement of laws that disproportionately affects communities of color. The desire to protect police officers and the desire to protect the rights of communities of color does not have to be contradictory.  A conversation to reconcile differences and to find solutions needs to be inclusive of all Americans in order to be productive.  The most difficult conversations are often the most significant ones.

The following statistics are most accurate and up to date information as we could find. Unfortunately there is no unified reporting agency for police interactions with the community. The FBI, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Non-profits, and advocacy groups all collect and keep their own data. Provided below is a survey of information intended to help start conversations and dialogue.

U.S. as a whole.

Race/Ethnicity % of US population % of U.S.
incarcerated population
National incarceration rate
(per 100,000)
White (non-Hispanic) 64% 39% 450 per 100,000
Hispanic 16% 19% 831 per 100,000
Black 13% 40% 2,306 per 100,000

This snapshot of figures and statistics demonstrate some of the disparities that exists in our communities.  A large problem is the lack of available, accurate, and non-biased data. While we do not have all the data or answers, the information above was designed to begin conversations in your home, workplaces, and with your friends. Our law enforcement officials and the communities they serve must work together to help end the violence and help begin the process of healing.  The CHRO is a resource to help begin these conversations.

The CHRO aims to not only prevent discrimination, but to eliminate it entirely through civil and human rights law enforcement, advocacy and education. CHRO Executive Director Tanya Hughes said in a statement that, she expressed great sadness regarding the events of late. “We need to work to make our country safer through fair laws that are equally enforced; we need to work together to find solutions.”  The agency strives to inform the public of their rights through education, advocacy, and other legal services. In Connecticut, the CHRO in conjunction with the CT Racial Profiling Working Group and other State and Federal partners are attempting to actively address issues of policing in Connecticut.  For example, any motorist pulled over should be provided with a notice that advises them they have a right to file a claim with the CHRO if they feel that the traffic stop was discriminatory. Connecticut law dictates that race and ethnicity cannot be the sole factor in determining probable cause to arrest or stop an individual or motor vehicle.

As a public agency, the CHRO is here to serve the public. If you feel as though you have been unfairly targeted by police or in areas of housing, employment, credit, or public accommodation, do not hesitate to contact the agency at any of our offices. We can be reached at 800-477-5737. Deputy Director Cheryl Sharp said in statement quoting MLK, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Through discourse and recognizing that there is a community problem we can drive out institutional “isms” and move towards the light of equality.