KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — As a civil rights, economic development and social service organization the Knoxville Area Urban League has been at work in East Tennessee for more than 50 years.
The COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest amid nationwide protests against police violence expose the needs of the community more than ever, according to the organization’s CEO.
“The unnecessary use of force, especially against black men has been a problem nationwide. But it is solved locally,” said Phyllis Nichols, Knoxville Area Urban League CEO.
Joining the National Urban League and other chapters across the country, the local chapter of the Urban League is calling on local law enforcement to review use of force policies.
“The Urban League Movement has proposed specific recommendations for police reform and accountability. These include the widespread use of body cameras and dashboard cameras, revision of use-of-force policies, officer training and hiring standards, and the immediate appointment of independent prosecutors to investigate police misconduct. But even more than these measures, we need a revision of our culture.
It’s a culture that teaches a white woman walking her dog in Central Park that racially-motivated police brutality is a weapon she can use to enforce her own preferred social code. As we pursue these measures to reform the police in our communities, we call upon all community leaders, elected officials, corporate leaders and social institutions to join us in pursuing policies that promote racial reconciliation.”Statement from the Leadership of the Urban League Movement
Nichols said civil rights organizations have a responsibility to hold leaders and law enforcement accountable. However, it isn’t just on them, but entire communities, too.
Knoxville Area Urban League CEO on protests:
Knoxville Area Urban League CEO on COVID-19 impacts: