Police and rescue workers swarm the intersection outside Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse, where shots were fired late Monday, June 1, 2020, in downtown Las Vegas. Police were in the area for a protest over the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who died in police custody on Memorial Day.
Joined by several of Nevada’s top black leaders, Gov. Steve Sisolak on Friday called on lawmakers and citizens alike to listen to communities of color who are “crying out” for an end to racism in society.
He said the killing of George Floyd stems from “decades of systemic inequality.”
He said for black Americans in particular, what should be a minor encounter with police will escalate into a tragedy.
“As a white man, I cannot claim to know what it’s like to live in fear of police encounters,” he said. “I will no longer be party to a system that dictates how minority communities should express their First Amendment rights to protest or their human right to grieve.”
Assemblywoman Danielle Monroe-Moreno, D-Las Vegas, a former police officer and a black woman, said Floyd’s killing, “for many it was simply the last straw.
“It unleashed the pain and distress that was 400 years in the making,”
She said everyone has the right to protest, a right as sacred as the right to vote.
Moreno said fixing society starts with admitting there is a problem and that, “it’s going to take all of us working together.”
She said it’s hard to change what has been ingrained in people from childhood.
“We have to change the way we treat each other, the way we think about each other,” she said.
The fix, she said, must start at home.
Attorney General Aaron Ford, also black, said the issues Floyd’s death brought forward are not new. At the same time, he said as Nevada’s top law enforcement officer, violence against people or property cannot be tolerated.
“The right to protest does not extend to a right to commit acts of violence. I will not condone acts of violence against police officers and against property.”
He called on all to work together to create and restore trust in law enforcement and discussions to find solutions including legislative action.
Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, said that means specific policies. He said in the 2019 Legislature they voted to require de-escalation training and implicit bias training but that regulations still haven’t been put in place to see that through.
“That’s a problem,” said Frierson, Nevada’s first black Assembly speaker.
He and Ford said the AG’s office should have the same power the federal Justice Department has to require bias training for prosecutors and law enforcement. Moreno said officers have to have a psychological evaluation before they are hired and an annual physical. She suggested that psychological evaluation should be annual as well.