Las Vegas Sun

September 24, 2018

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GUEST COLUMN:

To fight racial injustice, be the change you want to see

Without stating the obvious, we have all come to the realization that the UNITED States of America has become a DIVIDED nation, in more ways than one.

The horrific crimes that have taken place over the last five years, five months, five days, are an evil that has been deeply rooted in our history. At times, they are forgotten until tragedies like the ones we've seen in Orlando, Louisiana, Minnesota and Dallas bring us back to reality.

Here in Las Vegas, for the past few months the NAACP Las Vegas Branch and other community groups have been proactively working to build trust between our communities and Metro Police. We have held several community meetings to come up with solutions on transparency as it relates to the African-American community and law enforcement.

Roxann McCoy is president of the Las Vegas chapter of the NAACP.

Roxann McCoy is president of the Las Vegas chapter of the NAACP.

This is an election year, and the local NAACP is issuing a call to action across the Las Vegas Valley. We are urging all members, and those who are not, to work with us in the coming months. We will provide our Las Vegas residents with information and we ask that the community take a more active role, calling on our elected officials to pass bills in the upcoming legislative session and support laws necessary for change. Too often, we’ve heard, "What is the NAACP doing to help?" — not realizing that at times we as a community ask too much and do too little, not realizing that we all are the NAACP and must do our part to help. We want this cycle to end.

In a recent interview, NAACP President Cornell William Brooks stated:

“We're at a moment where we know what to do. The president has issued his task force — recommendations from his 21st Century Policing Task Force. The NAACP issued a report called 'Born Suspect.' We have police departments that know how to get it right. We just have to develop the will to get it right."

“The point being here is, we know what to do legislatively,” Brooks repeated. “We know what to do from a policy perspective. But at the end of the day, to bring about the kind of change we need, we need to ensure that every demonstrator is a voter and that we show up en masse and in the millions at the polls in November, because we need to bring about reform at the state, municipal and federal level. And, of course, call upon our presidential candidates to take racial profiling seriously and address it in their party platforms and in their campaigns.”

In the article, Brooks also mentioned a number of concrete steps, including passing, at the federal level, the End Racial Profiling Act and the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act. He called for state level action to pass racial profiling laws, police body camera and dashboard camera laws, and establishing civilian police review boards, something Metro has already been implementing, setting a standard for other departments across the United States.

Words are what we speak during these times of unrest — words of condolence, words of anger hate, words of solidarity. But what about words of truth? The truth is that statistics, not emotions, have shown us time and time again that whites and people of color experience the U.S justice system differently. No institutions are perfect or immune to flaws, but it's what we do to fix those flaws that needs to be our focus.

Roxann McCoy is president of the Las Vegas chapter of the NAACP.

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