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The vision statement of the NAACP is to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights without discrimination based on race. The recent shooting of Tyrese West on June 15, 2019 by a Mount Pleasant Police Officer highlights the fact that we still have much work to do. This incident shines light on the fact that police encounters with African Americans are often escalated-even to the point of death. We are currently seeing images from Phoenix, where a pregnant African American Mother had a handgun shoved in the face of her and her children while the officer yelled that he would blow her (expletive) head off. This is the escalation that is not a regular occurrence between others and law enforcement.

The veil of secrecy after incidents such as this only fuels the suspicion of the community, and make already strained relations even worse. Why pay taxpayer money for body cameras only to have policies that give officers the option whether to wear them or not? As the NAACP Racine Branch President, I have been working tirelessly since the shooting of Donte Shannon to ensure that all local law enforcement have body cameras in use-so that transparency exists in a time like this. The department has body cameras, but where is the footage? Where is the footage from local businesses and houses? What non-lethal methods were used to defuse the situation?

But most importantly, why do people of color stand the risk of dying when encountering police; whether it’s from holding a wallet like Amadou Diallo, or holding a cell phone like Stephon Clark! The Racine Branch NAACP has worked throughout its history with local law enforcement to strengthen relationships between the Community and Law Enforcement. We look forward to continuing to tackle this challenge. The Racine Branch of the NAACP sends its sincere condolences to the family of Tyrese West.

George Nicks Sr.