Texas NAACP voices concerns on police reform and racial profiling

Wednesday, the Texas and National NAACP spoke out about racial profiling by police. They believe it's happening far too often and they want to do something about it.

Video shot nearly two weeks ago is sparking more conversation about police reform, right here in the Capital City. It shows an Austin police officer taking a man's cell phone, throwing it to the ground and a nearby officer spraying mace on the bystander.

"It was clearly to me excessive, I think you don't need to do that, you're a police officer you're a public servant, you don't need to take people's property and smash it," said Nelson Linder, President, Austin Chapter of NAACP. Linder says the department has a lot to work on.

"What I see too often in areas like 6th street, I think officer react too quickly," said Linder.

Just a few hours up the road in McKinney, another video shows an officer's controversial encounter with teens at a pool party. Since the video was released, Texas NAACP President Gary Bledsoe is joining with national NAACP members to shine a light on racial profiling in the state, and the country.

"The young man who is a hero, I think his name is Brandon Brooks who took the video, was white and he said it was like he was invisible," said Bledsoe.

The Texas chapter says police reform begins with voting reform. They believe it starts by giving all those who deserve it, a chance to go to the polls. This summer they will begin a campaign called Operation I.D.

"An operation to identify, and document the people who have been negative or harmed by voter identification law in the state of Texas," said Bledsoe.

The effort to improve citizen-police relations aligns with the NAACP's national campaign, "America's Journey for Justice." It's a historic 860-mile march from Selma, Alabama to Washington D.C. It's a journey the Texas chapter invites people of all colors to attend this august.

"We're looking at a bigger evolution of how do you change community policing? How do police and community become responsible for each other?" said Carmen Watkins, National Field Director, Western U.S.

Whether it's in McKinney, or in Baltimore, the ultimate goal is to bridge the gap, and allow police and citizens to come together. Local leaders feel, it can start right here in Texas.

"Texas is a huge state, we have to reach out and make sure all departments have a uniformed standard," said Linder.

The march to D.C. will start August 1, They will end in mid-September. This all coincides with the 50th anniversary of The Voting Rights Act, which was signed into law by Texas's own Lyndon B. Johnson.


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