‘Hold us accountable’, says Black Caucus of Legislators and Elected Officials, as they promise reform

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The NAACP Memphis Branch and the Black Caucus of Legislators and Elected Officials held a news conference Saturday morning.

They announced the plans that elected officials want to do in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.

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State Representative Karen Camper said, “Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now .”

Camper is taking a line from the Broadway hit musical ‘Hamilton’ Saturday.

“As a military person, I know how it is and how long it takes to move a battleship," she said. “Institutional racism is like that, it takes time, but how lucky we are right now, to shoot every pontoon off that battleship and start a change."

Camper, one of a dozen members of the Black Caucus of Legislators and Elected Officials, appeared before NAACP headquarters to announce changes they’re proposing at the City, County, and State levels.

Michalyn Easter-Thomas, a Memphis City Council member, told FOX13, “As for City Council, we will be straightforward with city dollars, investing in resources we know our city deserves: COVID-19 testing, grocery store, clean streets, and we will get just that by defunding any city division that will or has caused harm to the black community.”

Both Memphis City Councilwomen Michalyn Easter Thomas and County Commissioner Tami Sawyer joined the chorus that grew even louder nationwide calling to defund local law enforcement agencies.

“Don’t ask us what our demands are, our demand is that you look into your home and you stop raising racist children,” said Sawyer.

Each of them continue calling for change from the criminal justice and other governmental systems – change they said will be discussed before their respective bodies in the coming weeks.

Lamar said, “We must allow all registered voters to vote absentee without any excuse.”

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State Representative Antonio Parkinson explained African Americans have the political power in Memphis.

“We have a black County Mayor, a black Chief of Police, a Black Sheriff," he said. “It is through this vehicle, we will join forces to force policy change that will protect our citizens from abuse from not only the po-po’s but the CEOS.”

The Black Caucus said if they don’t do what they’ve promised, hold them accountable at the ballot box.