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Williams: Leaders should be informed on issues in Black community

The best way for leaders to make a difference when it comes to issues in the Black community is to be informed, according to Missouri Sen. Brian Williams.

“I think we have to take a step back and understand that there is a population of people who are judged and perceived a certain way because of the color of their skin, and it’s not right, and it needs to stop,” Williams said. “I would say we need to inform ourselves. I think it’s time that we take a serious look at the challenges and the injustices of the Black community when it comes to systemic racism, policing, and beyond and really work together to move forward.”

Williams appeared on Sunday’s episode of “This Week in Missouri Politics to discuss police reform, systemic racism, COVID-19, and the protests that have occurred in Missouri and throughout the U.S. following the death of Goerge Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. He discussed the diverse turnout at protests across the state as well as policies he would like to see enacted. 

“I never thought in recent times that I would see a man die in front of my eyes on television,” Williams said. “I think it’s a gut-check to our country, I think its a gut-check to the world. It’s been very emotional and draining for the Black community. As the only Black male in the Missouri Senate, it’s really put me in a mindset where I wonder what can I do. I’ve felt helpless in so many ways as someone who has taken great pride in being a voice not only for the state of Missouri but for the Black community.”  

“It’s going to be an all-hands-on-deck approach,” Williams said. “It’s going to be incumbent on local government throughout the entire state to work hand-in-hand with the legislature to find policies that allow our communities to not only feel safe but to not allow what happened to George Floyd to go in vain.”

Policing and COVID-19

This week’s panel included St. Louis Police Department Association Executive Director Jeff Roorda, state Rep. Tom Hannegan, Liberty Alliance Executive Director Chris Vas, and Missouri Farm Bureau Director of Public Affairs Eric Bohl. The panel discussed the protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death as well as the legislative response and local reforms.

Hannegan also discussed the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on workplace discrimination and the Missouri equivalent, MONA, that has been brought up in the legislature since 1998

“They’re still leaving out a couple pieces that MONA would cover, including the housing situation and public accommodations,” Hannegan said. “Basically we’re hoping right now that this is a great way to start the conversation.” 

The conversation also covered the virus in rural areas, Missouri’s livestock industry, the Missouri State Fair, and the upcoming elections.

Watch the full episode of This Week in Missouri Politics below. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.