EUCLID, Ohio — The tragic police-involved death of 46-year-old George Floyd in Minneapolis is not only generating protests here in Northeast Ohio and across the country, it also has some local leaders calling for changes in laws at the state, county and city level to address racism.
Cassandra McDonald, President of the National Association and Advisory Committee on Policy Making told News 5 she is organizing a Justice Summit 2020 for June 10, to come up with legislative changes that will work toward curbing systemic racism and better hold police officers accountable when they use excessive force.
"We need changes, including everything from our Ohio Revised Code, to Ohio Administrative Code, all the way down to policies and the charter,” McDonald said.
“Because this is where we need the changes, if they don’t occur within the laws, then we’ll be going in a circle with what we need to do," he said. "I’m inviting state representatives, senators, judges, clergy, different people who are actually in position. This is a perfect time to say I want to see if you mean what you say, and say what you mean.”
McDonald said current laws that govern officers statewide are simply not working, that too often police are not being punished when they step out of line.
“We definitely have to have the police contract reviewed, there is language that needs to be taken out of it, as well as implemented, the arbitration process needs to be looked at,” McDonald said. "We’re also going as far as the county coroner’s office, because that plays a huge part in was it a homicide, was it a murder, was it manslaughter, it all depends on the ruling of that death.”
Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) told News 5 she'll be introducing a resolution at the statehouse in Columbus this week deeming racism a public health crisis.
“We have two viruses right now that are killing black people at a disproportionate rate, that would be the coronavirus as well as racism,” Sykes said. “We need to creating a database of incidents of police violence, unfortunately that database does not currently exist.”
Robin Brown, Presidents of Concerned Citizens Organized Against Lead told News 5 systemic racism has caused a disproportionate number of African American families to cope with lead poisoning, substandard housing and reduced economic and educational opportunities.
"I’m tired of crying painful tears, I’m tired of our young men dying,” Brown said. “If it’s not brought into policies, into laws, it will never change, but it has to change.”