SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – A local social justice organizer is taking matters into her own hands for national police reform. Lex Scott with Black Lives Matter Utah drafted a bill and started an online petition that she plans on taking to Washington D.C.
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“I can’t speak for our African American communities, but I think it’s pretty plain to see that there are a range of visceral emotions going on, especially in Minnesota right now,” said Edmund Fong, Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies and Political Science at the University of Utah.
He added, “We’ve had many leaders across the country who’ve seen these videos, say it doesn’t look right, but yet nothing has happened as a result.”
For the last six years, Scott has mourned with dozens of families who lost their loved ones in altercations with police. Whether they were justified or not has been a heated debate across the aisle. Black Lives Matter Utah has mostly disagreed with the findings in the majority of these fatal cases where involved officers were cleared of any wrongdoing.
“I see an officer-involved shooting. We get a call from the family, the family asks what’s going to happen, they don’t get justice. It happens again,” she said. “I feel like it’s a vicious cycle that goes over and over and over again with no accountability for any officers.”
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Over the past three years, she and members of the Community Activist Group (CAG) has worked with the Salt Lake City Police Department on de-escalation tactics and implicit bias training. She expressed that she’s felt progress and change from those efforts.
But after seeing the deadly interaction between George Floyd and Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, Scott wanted to take her efforts one step further.
“It’s been a good relationship with Salt Lake City PD. However, that is only one police department. That took three years. We need every police department to have the same advances and the same trainings that Salt Lake PD has,” she said. “I realized that the only way we could get justice for every police brutality victim is by changing the entire system.”
That’s why Scott has drafted a bill on police reform that she plans on taking to national lawmakers.
“America is fed up. America is tired. It’s too repetitive. Everyone knows we need police reform. No one wants to watch another video like George Floyd,” she said.
The bill includes the establishment of a comprehensive data collection system, requirement of implicit bias, de-escalation, and diversity training for every police department, stricter policies on the use of deadly force, the development of independent agencies to investigate officer-involved shootings, and regulations of body cameras.
“These videos can give the appearance that this is something new we’re seeing. But it’s not. The treatment these communities have experienced at the hands of some law enforcement officers stretches back over a century,” said Fong.
According to the Associated Press, multiple law enforcement officers have spoken out against the actions of Minneapolis police in Floyd’s death.
“I can assure everyone, me or any of my deputies will never treat anyone like that as long as I’m Sheriff. This kind of brutality is terrible and it needs to stop. All officers involved need to be arrested and charged immediately. Praying for the family,” wrote Sheriff Johnny Moats of Polk County, Georgia on Facebook.
Experts said Scott has a long road ahead to achieve legislative action, but it could be enough to prompt the passage of something similar on police reform.
“I think the intent behind this is to continue to move the needle, however torturous or slow it is, that we need concrete action and not just thoughts and prayers. I think it’s possible we could see the House (of Representatives) try to advance a bill around police reform,” said Fong.
Scott also started an online petition and said once it hits 100,000 signatures, she will head to Washington D.C.
“As long as it takes, we will take that long. We needed this bill passed yesterday. We need it right now,” she said.
Fong said he decided to sign the petition, which he views as simply a call to action.
“I can join in on the chorus of voices that look at these videos with alarm. Nobody should be experiencing these kinds of actions against them. It’s not just George Lloyd, but also Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, etc.,” he said.
To view Scott’s petition, click here.