MIAMI (CBSMiami) – On Wednesday, many of South Florida’s politicians and religious leaders held a virtual press conference. The discussion centered on how to legislate change to address decades of systematic racial injustice in America.
“This nation. The world is watching how America responds to this travesty of justice,” said Ruban Roberts, president of the Miami Dade NAACP.
The discussion was prompted by State Rep. Shevrin Jones, who believes the time for protest and action is now.
“People are sick of talking,” he said. “No more panels. We are past panel discussions and leaving the panel discussion and having nothing to talk about. People here in South Florida and across this country were exhausted, we are angry, we are tired.”
Jones was joined by several politicians echoing his call.
“We need to take advantage of this moment. We need to fix our country,” said Congressman Ted Deutch.
“We cannot, I cannot, you cannot just move on. This must change,” said Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. “The systemic brutality, which has been part of America’s justice system for hundreds of years, must be dismantled.”
Wassermann Schultz wants to push through a bill that tackles excessive force.
“That would make it illegal for police officers to apply choke-holds or apply pressure that restricts a person’s breathing,” she said.
Congressman Alcee Hastings called on better oversight of police.
“Citizens review of police officers bad conduct should happen in everywhere in this nation,” he said.
Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony believes the nation’s police departments need an early warning system.
“Where we can identify those officers who are exhibiting signs of abuse, that are exhibiting signs of lack of control, and flag them early on,” the sheriff said.
State Sen. Gary Farmer called for everyone to speak up.
“Passing legislation will not solve this problem or get us where we need to be,” he said. “We need real change in this country. And that type of change starts with changing minds and changing hearts.”
Pastor Eric Cunningham, who’s been at the protests in Minneapolis and St. Louis, agreed changing hearts is good, but legislation is needed.
“One of my friends said the other day that Jesus changes hearts and legislation is for hearts that don’t change,” he said.