Voices of Our Tomorrow Ending Police Brutality Isn't PoliticalBy: Leslie Carrillo I wish I didn’t have to write about this. It would be nice to live in a world where teens did not have to speak up for the issues that many in power ignore. However, I do not live in a peaceful world, so it is up to my peers and me to speak up. Police brutality is an issue in our country. We do not have to remain witnesses of this violence; we must speak up and demand change! I would not be writing about police brutality if I didn’t believe it is and will continue to be a prominent issue in our society if it isn’t addressed. I find it difficult to process the countless lives that have been taken, and I will not continue to let it happen without speaking up. Countless lives have been harmed and taken because of police brutality. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, and Elijah McClain are only few of the many who didn’t make it out alive from a police encounter. George Floyd used a counterfeit bill, Breonna Taylor was sleeping, Tamir Rice was a 12-year-old holding a toy, and Elijah McClain was walking home from a convenience store. Their presence was not a danger to others; they were simply living. Yet murderers like Dylan Roof and accused cop-killer David Ware made it out alive from their own police encounters. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, Elijah McClain, and many more have yet to receive justice when they shouldn’t have been killed in the first place. Not only have many lives been taken already, this issue persists because little to no change has been made. Police brutality is not a political matter, it is an issue of survival. People of color live their lives in fear. The website usnews.com states, “About 17 percent of the Black people who died as a result of police harm were unarmed, a larger share than any other racial group and about 1.3 times more than the average of 13 percent.” This is evidence that people of color are more susceptible to police brutality, and have experienced it to a greater extent. A police officer’s job is to protect and serve. It is not acceptable for innocent people to be brutally killed — murdered — for simply living. That should not be too much to ask. The solution to police brutality does not lie in abolishing the police; it lies in defunding the police. The funding that goes into unnecessary equipment can be redirected towards affordable housing, accessible healthcare, counseling, and helpful programs. These changes will better our world because redirected funds will provide necessary community services. And the decline of unnecessary high police presence will ensure people of color are no longer endangered by police. We can implement these changes in our society by taking action. My peers can start doing this by researching and reading reliable sources of information and continuing to inform others. Adults can take action by using their right to vote to elect officials that support the ending of police brutality. To end police brutality elected officials must defund the police. Editor’s note:The idea of youth voice takes on many forms, including sharing experiences and ideas with policy makers, which many of the young people of Our Tomorrow have done. Youth leaders within the Our Tomorrow network have learned about funding for youth services and are participating in a task force with adults to form recommendations on investments in youth, presented their ideas on sex education to the State Board of Education, and participated in our annual civics fair, Speak Up! Speak Out! However, young people’s experiences and ideas are abundant and we at Our Tomorrow and UP Partnership wanted to create a space for them to share their thoughts on current issues they face and those they see on the news. Voices of Our Tomorrow is a series of blogs that we will share every Thursday that highlight these experiences, thoughts and opinions.These thoughts and opinions do not expressly represent the thoughts of UP Partnership, its leadership team or board of directors.