CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A top leader in Charleston’s African American community said on MetroNews “Talkline” Tuesday the death of George Floyd in police custody adds yet another layer of distrust between the black community and its law enforcement system.
“We have to have some brutally honest conversations and they need to be on small levels. Every mayor, city police chief, captains and police leaders, councilmen and business leaders need to get together and have some frank discussions about policing in their town,” said Pastor Matthew Watts of the Grace Bible Church in Charleston.
Watts said the seeds of distrust have been sowed all the way back to the 1400’s when the first blacks were brought to North America to be sold into slavery.
“There has to be trust built and right now there’s very, very little trust.,” he said.
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Watts believed for the trust to work, police departments and city administrations need to be open and transparent So far he said very little of the transparency of a police agency is being embraced by city leaders.
Watts added however, he’s not excusing behavior in his community.
“We know we have some bad actors in our community. We know we have thugs and gangsters in our community. We want them dealt with and handled properly, but we don’t ALL want to be treated like thugs and gangsters and unfortunately that’s what’s happening. The police are painting our community with broad strokes,” he said.