Today, May 25th, marks the one year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, a day when the entire world watched bystander video that captured nearly 10 minutes of the horrors of police brutality in the glaring light of day. As Mr. Floyd breathed his last breath, and as the world caught its breath in the aftermath, what followed was a collective roar of outrage and demand for justice that swept across this nation and around the globe. It sparked the most significant public reckoning with racial injustice that this country has seen in recent times.
In the immediate aftermath of Mr. Floyd’s death and as the nation also grappled with the devastation of COVID-19 and its disproportionate impact on communities of color, the Urban League of Louisiana hosted a virtual town hall to elevate the conversation about police reform. Over 1,500 people tuned in to hear from thought leaders, policymakers, and advocates. Criminal justice and police reform remained a priority and was featured at our statewide 2021 annual Empowerment and Policy Conference.
In response to Mr. Floyd’s death, many reached out to us seeking advice on how to equip themselves with the knowledge and structures to advance racial equity. These requests prompted us to create and launch our Racial Equity Process, which offers direct support to help individuals and organizations strengthen their efforts to practice racial equity all the time.
A year ago we said, regarding police brutality, “these inhumane acts will continue to happen unless we examine the systems that allow them to be repeated.” In 2020, the Urban League of Louisiana was represented on the Police Training, Screening and De-escalation Task Force launched by the State Legislature to address police accountability. The work of this task force resulted in SB 34, authored by State Sen. Cleo Fields, which addresses the use of body cameras, dashboard cameras, choke holds, no-knock warrants, and training. This bill will be heard by the Louisiana House of Representatives this week, and we urge the legislature to pass it. Additionally, HB 609, introduced by State Rep. Edmond Jordan, seeks to prohibit qualified immunity for officers as a defense in certain cases. Our 2021 Policy Priorities Agenda includes other criminal justice reform legislation that promotes change in how policing is done in our communities.
At the national level – we, along with 89 other Urban League affiliates, stand with the National Urban League in strong support of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. We urge you to call your congressional representatives to show your support for this important piece of legislation.
The Urban League of Louisiana remains dedicated to the collective pursuit of justice and healing. Even as we reflect on what has happened in the last year, we are faced with yet another barrage of brutal video footage that cries out for justice. Ronald Greene died in the custody of those who used excessive force that resulted in his death.
This moment demands action at the local, state and national levels. Important work like the National Urban League’s 21 Pillars for Redefining Public Safety and Restoring Community Trust helps us to understand and redefine public safety that builds safer communities. At the state and local levels, the Urban League of Louisiana will continue to act by hosting necessary policy discussions and working in partnership with policymakers, community members, and advocates to make necessary police reform a reality in Louisiana.
The mission of the Urban League of Louisiana is to assist African Americans and other communities seeking equity to secure economic self-reliance, parity, and civil rights. We remain dedicated to moving this mission forward today, and every day.