NewsAmerica in Crisis

Social justice groups continue efforts as Derek Chauvin trial begins

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Posted at 11:54 AM, Mar 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-26 11:54:05-04

The trial is set to start Monday for the former police officer charged with killing George Floyd.

Now, we're revisiting some of the movements of change that swept the country after his death.

“It’s really about can the Black community and any community of color, any directly impacted community impacted by mass incarceration and police abuse, can we actually trust the system? Many would say that you can't, but if there's ever any time to try to restore the faith, it's in seeing justice done here,” said Damon Hewitt, President of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

The committee was one of several groups that got a big donation from a major organization last year, $1 million from Home Depot.

One of its biggest initiatives is fighting for equal voting access, which didn't end with the 2020 election.

The committee is now seeing a wave of new proposed laws that it says are designed to make voting more difficult at the state level.

“Now, certainly this is because of partisan interests from those who feel like their favorite candidates did not win. We also feel like some of these frankly have a tinge of racial exclusion harkening back to the days of the past,” said Hewitt.

The committee is fighting for federal legislation to address those voting bills. They're also helping community partners understand what's going on right now with redistricting and helping them draw maps, so every community has a voice.

In terms of police reform, Hewitt says they are fighting for enhanced accountability in terms of civil and criminal sanctions on the most egregious incidents, something you rarely see at the federal level.

“This is not an are you for the police or are you against the police kind of battle. This is a contest of ideas and really a redefinition of what community safety really means and whether oppressive militarize pugilistic policing strategies are part of that definition of safety,” said Hewitt.

Hewitt encourages everyone to fight for equal rights using their own talents, time and donations when possible.