This gathering is explicitly not a rally or a protest. It is a call to action for every Arkansan to accept responsibility for turning back the tide of profiling and systemic disenfranchisement African American males face in their daily lives.
"We want to especially invite young people, the clergy, advocates for equality, community leaders, business leaders, local and state policy makers, and enforcers of policy. But make no mistake, this call to action is for all of us," said Rep. Fred Love, Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus.
ALSO: Judge Wendell Griffen sent me the sermon he delivered Sunday on the verdict at the Baptist church he pastors. He said:
The name of Trayvon Martin now joins that of Emmit Till, Oscar Grant, Rodney King, Matthew Shepherd, and many more people who have been mistreated, abused, and victimized by people motivated by hate, bigotry, and fear.
Separately, Love issued a statement on the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the slaying of Trayvon Martin:
“First we pray for and with the Martin Family. The Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus joins the National Black Caucus of State Legislators in our disappointment of the not guilty verdict as well as their opposition of Stand Your Ground/Shoot First laws in the U.S. While we respect the jury has spoken, we must nevertheless take this tragedy as evidence that racial profiling still exists and there is an urgency for the community as a whole to address this issue.
The ALBC asks citizens to become more proactive than reactive. While we are saddened with the announcement of this verdict, we must use it as a catalyst for dialogue and action. We urge all citizens to speak out against racial profiling and racial injustice. As Dr. King said, "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
As a father of a young African American male, yesterday's verdict frightens me. But I am not going to let this fear paralyze me into inaction. The Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus is issuing a challenge to all the citizens of Arkansas: Let us address the Injustice of racial profiling and Work to change laws and attitudes that perpetuate actions that protect this injustice.
Let us open the dialogue and address these issues because if we do not, our community as a whole will continue to suffer.”