RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Over the weekend, cameras captured the moments law enforcement and protestors clashed during demonstrations honoring George Floyd. At the same time, there were public shows of solidarity among law enforcement.
In Michigan, a sheriff laid down his weapons and body armor to join the community in a march. Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson told the crowd, “These cops love you. That cop over there hugs people so you tell us what you need to do.” The crowd chanted “Walk with us” and Sheriff Swanson did.
In Iowa, Oregon, and Minnesota police took a knee in front of protestors to express their grievances with former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s treatment of Floyd.
Atlanta Chief of Police Erika Shields was seen walking among demonstrators in her city condemning the actions of Chauvin and listening to their concerns.
This is true leadership. Leaders work for others – not the other way around. This is the Atlanta chief of police showing empathy, compassion, concern and most importantly – listening. This woman deserved her chance to share her anger, fear, concerns and we need to take direction. pic.twitter.com/zsK13vfvQb— Lindsey Darvin, Ph.D. (@DrLindseyDarvin) May 30, 2020
“It was so damaging and it was so much of an inhumane act that I’m not surprised to see a lot of law enforcement officers speaking up and elected officials speaking up seeing George Floyd lose his life the way that he did,” said Gerald Givens, president of Raleigh-Apex NAACP.
Givens told CBS 17 speaking up is a step in the right direction.
“We expect our law enforcement officers to speak up and show their integrity that they would not stand for another officer representing them that way,” Givens said.
The North Carolina Sheriff’s Association released a statement saying in part, “The video clearly shows unprofessional and egregious conduct by law enforcement officers. This type of law enforcement conduct cannot be tolerated and must be swiftly addressed by the law enforcement community and the criminal justice system. “
The North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police said in their statement, “Unfortunately, the actions by the officers in this incident were not only horrific in nature, but appeared to be criminally intentional. This is yet another incident where unacceptable police behavior has ruptured the fabric of public trust by law enforcement actions. “
Givens said somehow the video of Floyd is resonating deeply with some law enforcement.
“You don’t need to be a police officer to know that what happened was just wrong,” he said.
These statements won’t change anything overnight. Givens said there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.
“We need to have a real serious conversation about American policing and its profession. The standards have to change. The standard has to be, is this the way you want to have your son or your daughter treated?” Givens said.
“It’s just not about the police officer themselves,” said Givens. He said the history of police officers being acquitted in trials as in the Rodney King and Walker Scott cases makes the community apprehensive about getting true justice for Floyd.
He said it’s important to understand that police officers are part of our communities.
“We have to improving the way we interact and socialize with each other because in the end, we are all human beings,’ Givens said.