With days left in the 2020 primary campaign, U.S. Rep. Al Lawson took on the issue of institutional racism with a high-profile friend and ally.
Lawson, along with attorney Benjamin Crump, discussed Black Lives Matter amidst the current historical moment.
With a newly intense focus on police violence nationally, specifically regarding the names of those Black children, women, and men killed by police in recent years, Lawson’s reelection campaign is hitting themes that may have not been so central in previous election cycles, but which clearly resonate for the Congressman.
“America is faced with a tremendous challenge and that challenge is where do we go from here,” Lawson said.
Lawson noted the “situation with George Floyd” galvanized a “movement not just in America but throughout the world.”
“It’s more than a moment … it’s a movement. We have an opportunity to change the course of where America is going,” Lawson said.
“Times are changing, and it’s because of young people,” Lawson said. “There’s a lot of people out there who don’t like this change.”
“I had a very conservative Republican ask me why his daughter had signs for Black Lives Matter,” Lawson said, noting that “things are changing.”
Crump, the prominent civil rights lawyer engaged in the Floyd case and so many others, had endorsed Lawson’s reelection earlier in 2020. He described the clear miscarriage of justice in the cases of Breonna Taylor and so many others.
“Imagine your child … a young adult, you got them to adulthood … she’s in her apartment, she’s working two jobs, trying to get her college degree as a nurse, doing everything right,” Crump said, when the Louisville police entered and “mutilated” her in a hail of bullets.
The attorney contrasted the treatment of Blacks by police to that experienced by Parkland killer Nicolas Cruz, who “police followed for hours” and “took alive.”
“If a black person moves a certain way, they shoot and kill him,” Crump said. “They obviously have criminalized the color of our skin.”
Crump lauded Lawson’s support of the Congressional Police Accountability Act, which includes federal penalties against police officers that kill suspects under certain circumstances.
The balance of the call, a panel, included other community voices, talking about the realities of police violence against Black people in America.
Lawson, a Tallahassee Democrat representing Florida’s 5th Congressional District, is a week out from a primary against Albert Chester and LaShonda Holloway, two candidates from Jacksonville who have not kept up with Lawson in terms of fundraising.