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Community Leaders Talk About Meaning Of Protest, Need For Action Against Racism

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Community leaders are weighing in on the protests and what is behind their message, and they are concerned that the message is being lost.

They say it is  not just a protest about the death of George Floyd. They say it is about Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland and others.

"The message is being covered because of the violence and the looting, and so it shifts a majority of the focus over to a minority group that's distracting from the message. The real message is we want criminal justice reform at every level," said Rev. Janette Wilson of Rainbow PUSH. "We want a change in the policing. We thought when we had the U.S. Attorney General under President Obama come in and look at the inappropriate practices and behavior of the Chicago Police Department that change would automatically occur, but it won't be automatic. It requires us to monitor and remove from the force rogue police officers. The police officer in Minneapolis had several complaints filed against him. Why was he still on the force? Van Dyke had several complaints filed against him in other instances. Why did he remain on the force and have an opportunity to be on the street and kill Laquan McDonald? It's because our system is broken, and it must change."

CBS 2's Dorothy Tucker also talked with the Rev. Otis Moss III, pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ. He emphasized the root causes that sparked the protests in Chicago and around the country.

"This is pulling back the Band-Aid, and many people are seeing – it's dangerous to birdwatch in New York. It is dangerous to just come out of a store in Minneapolis. That every black parent has to have a talk with their child about how to exist in this world so they will be able to come home safely – my prayer and dream is that no parent has to have a talk with their child about how to exist in this world to be able to come home safely," Moss said. "My prayer and dream is that no parent has to have that conversation with their child. I want my grandchildren to say, 'We don't have to have that conversation,' but the reality is that we do, and we need everyone – if this is to stop, those people who call themselves white as a racial construction must also become allies to say that racism, racial terror, white supremacy, creating disparities – this is not who we are. We must dismantle this system and we must build coalitions in order to do so."

Tucker herself added as she spoke with CBS 2's Jim Williams: "As the mother of two young African-American men, those words ring true to me. Jim, I know they ring true to you – as black parents, you know, we've had to have those conversations. I can tell you it is a very difficult conversation. It is a depressing conversation. It is one that you wish you would not have to have as you attempt to tell your boys, and girls as well, what they must do if they ever encounter a police officer – how they must act, what they must do to make sure they can get home safely. Like the reverend said, those are conversations that we hope our grandchildren won't have to have anymore, but it will take building a coalition and addressing the racism that we see in this country."

Williams added, "Dorothy, as you know, my father was a Chicago Police lieutenant. He had that conversation with me when I was 15 1/2 and learning to drive."

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