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A year after George Floyd death, CSRA and 2-state leaders say more work is ahead

Published: May. 25, 2021 at 5:51 PM EDT|Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 7:52 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. - It’s been a year since George Floyd died in Minneapolis at the hands of a police officer, with a viral video of the death triggered protests across the country.

Some in the two-state region say progress has been made in the past year, but there’s still work ahead.

Out of the protests came a list of demands from the organization Empower SC.

The list covered the topic of body cameras, law enforcement militarization, and use of force among several other topics.

Empower SC Co-Founder Rye Martinez said her organization is looking for legislative action on those demands, and the majority of them have not been met. “We want to see everything accomplished, which is why it’s on the list. I don’t think the list has been forgotten about everything on that list wasn’t written for fun, and people are really living those things. Everything on that list we want to be first,” she said. Martinez acknowledged in the aftermath of the protests two reforms did come down.

The South Carolina Supreme Court issued a temporary moratorium on “no-knock” warrants and the Columbia Police Department changed its use of force policies to remove the use of chokeholds. Martinez said she appreciates those moves, but there’s more work to be done.

“We feel like those things were already set to be changed. They were national circumstances, it wasn’t just South Carolina, it was plenty of other states that put those things into change,” she said.

She said moving forward, Empower SC will be pushing for the redistribution of local government funds from law enforcement agencies toward community aid projects.

In the CSRA

We spoke with the Aiken County NAACP president, who says just like Chauvin had the choice to stand up, we have that same choice here at home.

“Why can’t he just stand up? If he would have just stood up, then we’d be in a different timeline,” Eugene White said. “So now us today in the CSRA have the opportunity to stand up. we can stand up and change this ancient practice of policing and come up with 21st-century solutions to ensure that we all end up surviving better as a community.”

White says he believes we have made progress in the year that’s passed, but more can be done, like requiring mental health resources for law enforcement agencies and working to create programs that prevent violence in the first place

Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis Jr. released a statement about the anniversary of Floyd’s death:

“On this day one-year ago, America and the entire world watched as George Floyd was murdered by a public servant who swore to serve and protect the community. Floyd, a father, son, brother, friend, and more importantly, a human being, despite repeatedly crying out for help, and in clear distress, was killed with a knee pressed into his neck for nine minutes and twenty-six seconds.

“My heart goes out to Gianna and the entire Floyd family, and I will continue to pray for their strength and healing. I cannot begin to imagine the horror of watching your loved one summarily executed in front of the world.

“This tragedy, recorded on video and shared across multiple platforms, gave the world a glimpse into the enormity of what many Black Americans endure on an all too alarming basis at the hands of law enforcement. Americans, locked in their homes to avoid spreading a deadly virus, were forced to bear witness to Black America’s reality.

“As we mark the one year anniversary of this devastating moment in American history, we have an obligation to ensure that the law enforcement practices and mentality that guide our law enforcement officers are better than the ones that contributed to George Floyd’s death. We have a duty as public servants to repair the broken relationship and build trust in communities that have historically been the target of police injustice. We have a responsibility to remove and punish law enforcement officers who act as judge, jury, and executioner. That is why I urge congress to pass, and send to President Biden’s desk, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

“America has come a long way for such a young nation, however, we cannot rest on our laurels. The linchpin to our very foundation is the idea of all Americans being created equal. Regardless of race, class, gender, religion, or profession, it is far past time that our actions reflect our ideals.”

From reports by WRDW/WAGT and WIS. All rights reserved.