PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — The Bay County chapter of the NAACP held a news conference on Friday responding to the death of George Floyd and the use of deadly force by police officers.
“Not only has that happened to George Floyd, there is a long, long, list of African-American men and women who have lost their lives, who have been killed, murdered, at the hands of police officers,” said Bay County NAACP President, Dr. Rufus Wood Jr..
The Bay County branch of the NAACP is calling for change in America, saying that it all starts locally.
“I don’t know if you’ve heard what we call the talk,” said Bay County NAACP Civic Engagement Chair Matthew Shack, talking about a conversation that is had in black families from generation to generation. “Explain to them how to act if you are stopped by the police. You are different because of the color of your skin, and don’t take it for granted because you may end up dead.”
Shack was joined by dozens of others at the Bay County Courthouse for Friday’s news conference.
“We are committed to transforming our protests into policy,” said Dr. Wood, who added that the killing of unarmed black Americans, especially by the police, must stop. “As the NAACP, we are saying we are done dying.”
They’re calling for solutions starting at the local level, like meeting with police chiefs to review their use of force policies and possibly forming citizen review boards for police officers.
“We want to know where the bad cops are,” said Dr. Dinah Crayton, the Bay County branch NAACP Vice President. “Don’t hide it, get them off the police force if they have a history of misconduct.”
They also want to see a state-wide review board for officers who use deadly force, tied to their recertifications. Along with that, they have a strong message for residents.
“If you are angry, vote,” said Shack. “If you don’t like the status quo, vote!”
Panama City resident Cotrell Trotter agrees.
“Everything stems from the vote,” said Trotter. “Your protests can be ignored, like it’s been for years.”
Trotter said he has an autistic son, and for him, having ‘the talk’ isn’t enough.
“I don’t want to live in fear everyday that my son is going to be racially profiled and then restrained,” he said. “I can’t even speak of the things I fear because of that confrontation.”
They hope the movement continues to grow peacefully but intentionally.
“We are committed to transforming our trauma and our tears into triumph,” said Dr. Wood.