The death of George Floyd and subsequent
police brutality protests have sparked a series of community
conversations and political action concerning racism. During
the month of June, federal, state and local governments have
responded in varying degrees to community concerns. In
response, local Black leaders organized a meeting on June 18
to discuss those topics.
The YWCA of Northwest Ohio, Toledo NAACP
Unit and Lucas County Children Services organized the June
18 meeting. "The meeting came as a result of the city of
Toledo and Lucas County passing ordinances declaring racism
as a public health crisis. Acknowledgment of the crisis is
great, but what are we going to do about it?" asked Lisa
McDuffie, president/CEO of YWCA.
Representatives from the faith-based
community, local unions, government offices, education,
scholarly research, healthcare services, mental health
agencies and grassroot community action agencies discussed
the cause and effect of racism in the community that were
described as overarching themes. The group plans to continue
holding discussions in the coming weeks.
"We applaud the individuals and the
organizations working hard in this space. There has been 400
years of oppression and now that the world and community is
‘woke,’ where do we begin to address inequalities. Police
reform is vitally important but so is equity of education,
employment, health care, etc." said McDuffie.
The executive and legislative branches of
government have crafted three different actions in response
police brutality and racism. President Trump signed an
executive order in early June 2020 to call attention to
chokeholds and excessive force, increase de-escalation
training, and increase authority of a national database to
track terminated or decertified officers.
The Senate introduced in June the JUSTICE
Act which stands for Just and Unifying Solutions to
Invigorate Communities Everywhere. The bill would discourage
chokeholds and increase the use of body-worn cameras,
increase de-escalation training methods and duty to
intervene tactics, encourage community policing, require
reporting of officer weapon discharge or use of force,
define lynching as a federal crime, and commission two
studies about issues faced by black men and boys and also
the entire criminal justice system.
The Lucas County Commissioners and Toledo
City Council issued resolutions declaring racism as a public
health crisis in June 2020.
The House of Representatives introduced in
the month of June, the Justice in Policing Act that would
grant authority to issue subpoenas and investigate bias,
establish a federal registry of police misconduct complaints
and disciplinary actions, require body-worn cameras and
dashboard cameras, reduce police issued military equipment,
require law enforcement agencies adopt anti-discrimination
policies and training programs, ban chokeholds or other
carotid holds, prohibit the issuance of no-knock warrants,
and mandate that federal officers use deadly force only as a
last resort. “The slow, torturous murder of George Floyd by
a uniformed police officer was an outrageous, tragedy and
embarrassment of our country in front of the whole world.
Members of Congress, we have the opportunity in front of us
right now, to examine police practices in America and
legislate reform to police practices,” said Congresswoman
Karen Bass the Congressional Black Caucus Chair during the
Act hearing last week.