The Georgia NAACP issued the following statement regarding the fatal police shooting of 37-year old Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 32-year old Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minnesota and the Dallas shooting of 12 Peace Officers at a peaceful protest against police brutality. “Last night the Nation watched, prayed, and grieved for the 11 Dallas Peace Officers that were shot and the 5 that were killed in what is the deadliest attack for law enforcement since 9/11. The Georgia NAACP condemns this violence. It is antithetical to our core values as Americans. Change must come to policing in America but it cannot and will not come at the end of a barrel of a gun” said Francys Johnson, Statesboro Attorney and Georgia NAACP President.
According to the news release from the organization, “In the wake of the police shootings, the Georgia NAACP has called for a weekend of reflection and peaceful protest. Peaceful protests have erupted around Georgia without incident. “Anyone exercising their First Amendment rights of peaceful assembly by attending a Rally, Teach-In, or Protest should do so with respect for human life and the rule of law” said Johnson.
The Georgia NAACP and all our civil and human rights partners remain committed to seeking criminal justice reform. “Beyond heartbreaking, these latest tragedies call for officials to break the inertia that may paralyze local and state authorities eliminating racial disparities across the criminal justice system and in policing specifically,” said Johnson.
“We are not here to only complain; we offer solutions. Specifically and firstly, all state and municipal authorities should ensure their agencies’ policing practices adhere to the Justice Department protocols and the Presidential Commission on 21st Century Policing. Last year nearly 1000 people lost their lives in police custody across the United States. These tragedies, as well as our communities and countries, demand wholesale reform,” said Johnson.
According to Gerald Griggs, Atlanta Civil Rights Attorney and Georgia NAACP Criminal Justice Committee Chair, this is precisely why the NAACP is calling for the Protect with Respect Policing Reform Agenda. “First, we are calling on states to pass comprehensive racial profiling laws. One racial profiling law, co-authored and passed with the support of the NAACP in Missouri enabled the Department of Justice to hold the Ferguson Police Department accountable through its ‘pattern and practice’ investigation,” said Griggs.
Other demands include full support of and passage of two crucial pieces of federal legislation. Last summer, the NAACP led a 1,002 mile march from Selma, Alabama to Washington, DC to demand members of Congress pass the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act (LETIA) and the End Racial Profiling Act. LETIA addresses the issue of police accountability and trust between police departments and their communities. The legislation also provides incentives for police organizations to adopt standards to ensure that incidents of misconduct are reduced through management training and protocols. ERPA would create a federal prohibition on racial profiling, mandate data collection, provide funding for law enforcement retraining and withhold funding to law enforcement agencies that do not comply.
Yet, the Georgia NAACP acknowledges this is a political problem as well. According to Richard Rose, Atlanta Branch President, the two presumptive presidential candidates crisscrossing this country must address criminal justice reform. “We want them to clearly state their commitment to address criminal justice reform and the issues of racial profiling, use of excessive force, and stop and frisk abuses. As the two candidates lead rallies and fundraising events seeking our support and our vote, we must demand that they support legislation to reform our fractured criminal justice system and end the murder of black and brown men and women at the hands of police,” said Rose.
“Today, we mourn the tragic loss of the life of Peace Officers killed because they were Police and pray for their families and community. But we must also turn our anger about the almost daily killing of African Americans in police custody towards efforts to ensure their transformative reforms to our criminal justice system at every level” said Johnson.