RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Under the Slavery Reconciliation Statue on the corner of 15th and Main St. in Richmond, community leaders discussed police brutality and how to end it during today’s “Call to Action: Justice for All” press conference.
Mayor Levar Stoney says he understands the injustices black men face first hand. He says he and the entire community are hurting right now because, for far too long, people like George Floyd have lost their lives just for living their life.
“This is bigger than just those moments,” he said. “It’ comes from 400 years of oppression and suffering. It’s built and baked into the system we all live under … but we have to do better. We deserve better.”
Stoney said what he has seen in the streets the last few days is that people want to see change now.
“It’s okay to be frustrated. It’s okay to hurt right now. It’s fine and expresses that using your first amendment rights,” Stoney said. “If we want to go further in a faster manner, the only way we do that is doing it together.”
He said the city needs to hold its law enforcement accountable with policies like citizen review boards. Stoney even mentioned implementing the “Marcus Alert.” Marcus David-Peters was killed by Richmond Police in 2018 during a mental health crisis.
“The people of this city have to be one with their law enforcement. That means we need to welcome each and everyone to the table,” Stoney said.
Sen. Tim Kaine said this country has a lot of trauma within our minority communities. He said the trauma looks like how they can’t do innocent actions without worrying about it turning into death.
WATCH: Richmond leaders come together to discuss police violence at “Call to Action: Justice for All”
“You’re at risk for your very life if you go bird watching or if you go buy candy from a store … you’re at risk for your life,” he said.
Kaine says we have to hold each other accountable and can’t let people change the subject.
“There are a whole lot of folks who don’t want to talk about police brutality,” he said. “They will turn their attention away from the trauma that is real to preach a fake story.”
Del. Delores McQuinn, 70th House District, said that the community would not let the discussion would be changed.
“If there are enough sparks festering because of social and economic disparities and brutality and anger and prejudice and frustration, eventually there will be an explosion,” she said. “America is now facing her explosion.”
J.J. Minor, President of the Richmond NAACP, says destructing the city only causes the true message be lost. He says we need a peaceful yet powerful call to action.
“We cannot move forward with violence and uncontrolled rage. It is is not right and it will not result in the changes we demand and we deserve,” said Minor.
The press conference was supposed to happen on Sunday but was rescheduled for this afternoon.
For the last three days protests and riots over the death of George Floyd have taken place across Richmond. As a result, Stoney set an 8 p.m. curfew for the city until June 3, and Gov. Ralph Northam put the National Guard on alert.
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