On the same day Michael Brown was laid to rest, lawmakers here in California are speaking out against all of the recent deaths of unarmed men of color at the hands of police officers.
Members of the Legislative Black Caucus of California and the NAACP stood in the State Capitol, calling for more dialogue about the way communities deal with race. They say it’s a shame this has to happen in 2014, but young men are dying and something needs to be done.
Lawmakers stood in front of pictures of five unarmed, black men who were killed by police officers in cities around the country.
“It’s so tragic that we have to do this today in 2014,” Alice Huffman, president of the California NAACP, said Monday.
The groups wanted to address ongoing issues between law enforcement and young men of color on Monday, the same day as 18-year-old Michael Brown was laid to rest in Missouri.
Lawmakers say young black men are being unfairly targeted by law enforcement across the country. They feel the anger on the streets of Ferguson after Brown was shot and killed by an officer is a symbol of that frustration.
“This was like the straw that broke the camel’s back that we hope will create the opportunity for dialogue and culture change around racism and bias in this country,” State Senator Holly Mitchell said.
For Mitchell, the issue is personal. She says she understands that young men like Michael Brown and Oscar Grant could have been her own teenage son.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson has praised the city’s police department for its community outreach efforts.
Ali Wolf filed this report.