Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibility
Close Alert

Austin NAACP President explains the growing momentum for racial justice, systemic change

Austin NAACP President Nelson Linder. (CBS Austin)
Austin NAACP President Nelson Linder. (CBS Austin)
Facebook Share IconTwitter Share IconEmail Share Icon

Outrage, fear, and demands for change continue to fuel protesters all over the country and in Austin a week since George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minneapolis, died after a police officer used his knee to pin Floyd's neck against the ground.

"We haven't done enough to address these issues and that's why they keep occurring. That's on us as a society," said Austin NAACP President Nelson Linder.

Linder says the Black Lives Matter movement has intensified in part because of a culmination of anger in the wake of other recent minority deaths linked to police brutality and racism including Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and locally, Mike Ramos.

"It's about human life, what's more important than that," said Linder.

It may also be because the public was able to see every detail of Floyd's death on video. Linder says the feeling some had after watching it draw parallels with how citizens reacted to the lynching and murder of 14-old Emmett Till in Mississippi 1955.

"[Till] was accused of saying something to a white woman. He was brutally lynched and killed. His mom made a decision to show his body on national TV all around the world. That shocked America," said Linder. "It moved a whole nation. When you saw what happened to Mr. Floyd, it was undeniable. It was brutal it was inhumane. It was animalistic. Any human being is going to feel that."

"There is a precedent when we think of the 1960s and the civil rebellions that we saw and the political uprisings in the context of the civil rights, black power era," said Dr. Peniel Joseph. Professor of Public Affairs at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at UT Austin.

RELATED: Continuous demonstrations evolve into conversations with APD officers

Joseph says violence during the civil rights era dwarfs what cities are seeing today in the wake of daily demonstrations. Yet, the protests still show some similarities to that time including protest conduct and the police's use of force in response to the crowds.

"When we think about Selma, Alabama and the Edmond Pettus Bridge in 1965, those were Alabama State troopers that attacked peaceful protesters. When we think of Birmingham, Alabama in 1963, the water hoses and German shepherds [were] unleashed on peaceful protesters," said Joseph. "So there is a large history of law enforcement as protection or the tool to protect the status quo, whatever that status quo may be."

Yet, Joseph says there is some progress that communities are already starting to see, such as police choosing to kneel with protesters instead of retaliating.

Linder says if protesters wants real change to come out of these demonstrations, their actions on the streets must shift into holding local and state leaders accountable for policy changes.

"You can't help if it's only an emotional response. If you want to help you got to understand what allows this to happen," said Linder.

Linder hopes some of those changes can be improving local and state laws that may currently protect police from being prosecuted for police brutality cases.

"Constitutional changes, DA's who can get people convicted, and grand juries who are informed and educated who can make those kinds of decisions," he said.

Loading ...