The Bloomington-Normal branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is speaking out against two recent high-profile killings of African Americans and calling for dialogue during a virtual town hall meeting next week.
On Feb. 23, Ahmaud Arbery was jogging near Brunsick, Ga., when the father and son pair of Gregory and Travis McMichael shot and killed him. The McMichaels said they were trying to make a citizen's arrest of a person they suspected of burglary. A grand jury has indicted them for murder. And on May 6, Indianapolis police shot and killed an African American man after a car and foot chase. The officer also was black.
The local NAACP chapter said in a news release it did not want the significance of the killings glossed over by continued attention to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Reckless homicides must cease, as every citizen has the right to live in a society free of violence from the very department designed to “serve and protect. Building solid relationships is critical to effective policing,” said chapter President Linda Foster.
The chapter also said Sunday that African Americans face harsh harassment and significant police bias for wearing face masks, as ordered by local municipalities.
“Systemic racism is even more evident during times of crises. We duly acknowledge and respect our men and women in blue, as we encourage police officers to minimize biases and preconceived notions to ensure equality for all citizens. Diversity and inclusion training remain critical to dismantling unconscious biases,” added Dr. Carla Campbell-Jackson, chapter first vice president.
At 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 21, the Bloomington-Normal branch of the NAACP will host a Town Hall Meeting entitled, “COVID-19, Law Enforcement and the African American Community.” The meeting ID is 75783179433.
“I am happy to report our local chiefs will participate in an upcoming virtual Town Hall Meeting to discuss various concerns and current events,” said Foster.
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