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Local leader says George Floyd protests have been years in the making

Posted at 4:34 PM, Jun 01, 2020

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - National protests are a response to George Floyd’ s death but also a reaction to countless killings of Black Americans by police in this country.

People are hurting and desperate for systematic change that will hold officers accountable for their wrongdoings and prevent unjust killings.

The Portsmouth NAACP says this latest uprising of protests has been years in the making.

Eric Garner said “I can’t breathe” before he was killed by New York police in July 2014

George Floyd uttered the same words: “I can’t breathe” with a Minneapolis officer’s knee on his neck almost six years later—prompting protests nationally and here at home.

“It’s a moment now where I think everybody can stand up and say this injustice is wrong,” says Portsmouth NAACP president, James Boyd.

Now, demonstrators are renewing calls for change and justice.

“We’re not having it anymore and we’re not going to see our people murdered like that anymore,” says Boyd.

  • August 2014: 18-year-oldMichael brown was killed by an officer outside of St. Louis, friends say he had his hands up during the shooting.
  • October: 2014 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was shot 16 times by Chicago police as he walked away from officers with a small knife in his hand.
  • November 2014: 12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed by Cleveland police while playing with a toy gun.

The next year Freddie Gray died in Baltimore Police custody while unrestrained in a police wagon; unarmed Walter Scott is shot five times while running away from police during a traffic stop; and Sandra Bland’s death is ruled a suicide after a controversial arrest during a traffic stop for allegedly failing to signal a lane change.

“The right to life is something we believe is God-given it is not given by governments it shouldn’t be taken away by a police officers,” says Boyd.

In many cases, the killings are there for us to see ourselves, including Philando Castile’s. He was a Minnesota man that was shot seven times in 2016 by an officer during a traffic stop

“I think those videos are literally causing people to stand up they may not have otherwise done so because of the vulgar way in which George Floyd was murdered or Aubrey was murdered,” says Boyd.

Portsmouth NAACP says there are plenty of national cases sparking anger and frustration, but wounds are still healing in the city from the 2015 killing of unarmed 18-year-old William Chapman during an altercation with a Portsmouth officer who was later convicted of manslaughter.

“We want new policy, we want new use of force referendums, we want the records of police officers who have shot unarmed African-Americans— we want those records, we want those officers removed. We want these policies because it’s important now because literally our lives are at stake,” says Boyd.