Updated Jun 5, 2020 - Axios Events

A conversation on the inequality epidemic facing black Americans

On Friday June 5, Axios Executive Editor Sara Kehaulani Goo and White House Editor Margaret Talev hosted a live, virtual event on inequality and police brutality against black Americans, featuring NAACP President & CEO Derrick Johnson, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.).

Derrick Johnson discussed the impact of police unions negotiating to have records of officers not publicly disclosed, as well as elections as a means of structural change.

  • On lack of transparency: "An officer can create a lot of problems in discipline in one agency and then move onto another agency, and no one ever knows he or she actually was a problem officer or a bad apple."
  • On making change at the policy level: "We really need to talk about the structural change that's going to be required, and those changes are inside of public policy...[Voters] have to evaluate: 'Do we have the right people in office? Do we have the right people in the seats for change?'"

Mayor Melvin Carter underscored how the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and institutional racism are connected.

  • "We are facing not just one pandemic, we're facing multiple pandemics of disparities, inequities, and long-term systemic racism that we've seen play out not just in Minnesota but across our country."

Mayor Lovely Warren discussed how Rochester, New York is working to address transparency, including a civilian accountability board and passing laws condemning chokeholds and other measures of force.

  • On holding police officers accountable: "Unions have their role and their place, but we need to make sure that we're protecting the public and protecting employees that act within the confine of the law."

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) discussed the differences between protests following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the 1968 civil rights actions, as well as his proposed Emmett Till Antilynching Act currently being held up in the Senate.

  • On making lasting changes: "I see individuals coming together in beautiful ways, better ways. But I don’t see any organizational coalescing in these margins...I think ultimately we have to get to a position where we are [seeing that organization] in order to have a sustained change in this society."
  • On the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, which would be the first law to make lynching a federal crime: "If it doesn't pass now, I don't believe it will pass...I really believe this bill has reached a moment."
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