MADISON, WI – NAACP Wisconsin State Conference President Frank A. Humphrey today issued the following statement regarding the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minnesota, following police encounters and ongoing violence at protest rallies across the nation:
“The events of last week remind us as citizens of Wisconsin that we cannot escape the feelings that engulf this nation at this time because of our experience in the loss of Dontre Hamilton who was shot to death April 30, 2014 after police were called to a park in downtown Milwaukee; and of Tony Robinson who, instead of receiving needed care for substance abuse, was shot to death by a Madison police officer.”
Mr. Humphrey also expressed sympathy over the loss of five police officers in Dallas, Texas, including Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Brent Thompson and Patrick Zamarripa, who were slain in a shooting stemming from reportedly racial revenge by Micah Xavier Johnson, of Mesquite, Texas, a military veteran who’d served in Afghanistan.
“As a State Conference with local Branches located in Milwaukee, Beloit, Green Bay and in the respective counties of Dane, Racine, Kenosha, Waukesha, and Ozaukee, we join in the pain that has engulfed our nation and our collective African American Community. Our NAACP Wisconsin State Conference goes on record expressing its heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the families of Al-ton Sterling of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile of St. Paul, Minnesota.”
Mr. Humphrey acknowledged the outpouring of sympathy from NAACP Wisconsin officers and members to the families of the five slain police officers whom he described as Americans caught in the middle of a dysfunctional and emotionally disturbed society. Humphrey said, “No words can comfort these families for the recent losses of their love ones and those that served to protect daily our democracy”. These senseless deaths are indeed all tragedies and circumstances where our collective society must take responsibility” He borrowed words from a minister that he heard in a recent eulogy saying “As Americans, we need to realize that death does not discriminate.”
The NAACP Wisconsin Conference rejects violence as an avenue to resolve what ails our society. The NAACP Wisconsin Conference realizes that as Americans, we are all part of the human family and that America is being judged daily by a World court of One Family. It will, however, be up to the African-American Community and each individual citizen to mount a sustained campaign for what appears to be pervasive paranoia regarding Black citizens in their interaction with local law enforcement. As a collective African-American Community, we cannot ignore the unjustified violence inflicted and the tormented feeling of being under siege, profiled and targeted.
The NAACP Wisconsin State Conference calls upon the U.S. Congressional delegation from Wisconsin to enact the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act (LETIA) and the End Racial Profiling Act. LETIA addresses the issue of police accountability and trust between police departments and their communities. The legislation has been strongly supported over this past year by our NAACP national board, President and CEO William Cornell Brooks and our Washington Bureau. It provides incentives for police organizations to adopt standards to ensure that incidents of misconduct are reduced through management training and protocols. ERPA would create a federal prohibition on racial profiling, mandate data collection, provide funding for law enforcement retraining and withhold funding to law enforcement agencies that do not comply. Similar laws that provide data collection on racial profiling need to be reintroduced and passed at our State level.
The NAACP Wisconsin State Conference believes that one formidable and viable pathway to ensuring legal accountability for those who act excessively under color of the law requires the Black electorate to vote as a disciplined block and in significant numbers so that the highest elected office holder for a local, state or federal governmental body is held accountable for any negative or racially divisive work environment in departments or among personnel under their jurisdiction. “Our Lives Matter and Our Votes Must Count.”
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