NAACP president compares recent police killings to lynchings
ST. PAUL — NAACP President Cornell William Brooks compared the recent killings of black men by police to lynchings during the Civil Rights movement when he spoke to a church congregation in St. Paul on Sunday.
“We will stand up and stand against police misconduct, police brutality, and we will bring this 21st Century lynching to an end,” Brooks told members of the Progressive Baptist Church in St. Paul. Church members were gathered to celebrate an anniversary of one of their pastors.
Brooks used stark imagery during his remarks, comparing “lynching ropes and white sheets” of the last century with present day “guns and badges and blue uniforms.” He added that black men are 21 times more likely to die at the hands of police than their white counterparts.
“This is a difficult moment in the country,” Brooks said, noting that five Dallas police officers also were killed last week during a protest.
Brooks flew to Minnesota on Sunday to meet with Gov. Mark Dayton and other leaders to discuss the response to the death of Philando Castile, who was fatally shot by a St. Anthony police officer Wednesday during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights.
Brooks spent the morning in Louisiana where Alton Sterling was killed during an encounter with police last week.
“The victims of police misconduct are young and old. And the opponents of police misconduct must be young and old,” Brooks said. “We must stand together … no matter where you are or where you come from you got to take a strong stand against police brutality.”
Castile’s girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, who live-streamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook, said police had no reason to fire on her 32-year-old boyfriend. Jeronimo Yanez, the officer who shot Castile, said through his attorney that he fired because he saw a gun.
Brooks urged church members and lawmakers to support new laws to combat racial profiling.
It’s an idea supported by Rep. Rena Moran, DFL-St. Paul, who attended the meeting with Brooks and Dayton. Moran said she’s sponsored legislation to improve community policing practices, but it stalled in the Minnesota House.
“I think there are some common sense things that need to be done and done as quickly as possible,” Moran said.
Dayton met for about an hour with Brooks, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and members of local chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Dayton left without commenting on the talks, saying he would leave comments to Brooks.
Earlier in the day, in reaction to protests Saturday night that turned violent, Dayton released a statement urging residents to be calm and protest in lawful ways.