GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Local activists are calling for change one year after George Floyd was killed— arguing it goes beyond police reform, but are instead asking for lawmakers to enact legislation that holds everyone accountable for their actions.
President of the Greenville branch of the NAACP, Reverend J.M. Flemming, said he just wants an equal spot at the table.
“So you can hear our side, ” Rev. Flemming said. “Hear where we’re coming from in saying we’re tired of 500 years of slavery.”
He said it’s a matter of sitting down and having the conversation.
“Until we’re willing to sit down and talk about what’s going on in our community, sit down and talk with folk who can make changes, we’re going to be fighting this battle for a while,” said Rev. Flemming.
But Rev. Flemming said he needs help to get there.
“Those folk who can make the changes, has to have the nerve enough to come forward,” Rev. Flemming said. “That’s white males in our community, white males in leadership who has the authority and power to speak it and make it happen.”
He argues there needs to be federal regulations in place to hold law enforcement accountable.
Since George Floyd’s death, the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office introduced having those sorts of conversations and started an open dialogue with local activists, people in the community, and those within the agency.
“Just want to kind of hear what their concerns were, hear how they felt about others,” said Public Information Officer for the Sheriff’s Office, Ryan Flood. “Things that they see as problems and things that we can do as an agency to improve and to get better.”
Flood said that includes diversity and inclusion.
He said they’re putting an emphasis on recruiting minorities.
“Because our agency, as well as all other law enforcement agencies should reflect the communities that we serve,” Flood said. “We’re not there yet, but we’re working to get there.”
Flood said the Office is in the beginning stages of creating an Equity and Inclusion Unit.
As for policies, the Office also created the duty to intervene following Floyd’s death.
“What that does now is that requires and mandates that a law enforcement officer here intervenes in the event that they see another deputy or officer using an excessive amount of force,” said Flood.
Founder of Fighting Injustice Together, Bruce Wilson, said he appreciates the Sheriff being willing to have the conversations.
“But we have been talking and having these conversations for years and nothing has changed,” Wilson said. “We have to get beyond talking and start talking about actions, and actions mean laws and being able to hold people accountable.”
He’s calling on legislators to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which says it addresses a wide range of policing practices and law enforcement accountability.
“Accountability is the thing now,” Wilson said. “But, after all of the marching and the protesting, if we do not get the meaningful legislation, all of that’s dead. And that means that George Floyd’s life will be lost in vain.”
The U.S. House passed the “George Floyd Justice in Policing Act” in March of this year. Today— it is still sitting in the hands of the Senate.
Senator Tim Scott criticized the bill saying he was upset the House voted on a partisan bill in an attempt to fix a non-partisan issue. His office said he has been working on criminal justice reform for years and that his bill, ‘The Justice Act’ overlaps with a lot of the same issues.