LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Personal stories of raising black children and confrontations with everyday racism charged a news conference called Friday to address systemic racism and the protests that have followed George Floyd’s death.
The news conference followed a video statement released Thursday by Sisolak.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak spoke along with three black leaders in the state: Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford, Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson and Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno.
Sisolak said the protests that stemmed from the “senseless killing” of Floyd are the result of “generations of inequality.”
Sisolak’s comment that as a privileged white man, “I cannot claim to know what it’s like” set the stage for powerful statements by Ford, Frierson and Monroe-Moreno. But Sisolak did not dismiss his role in the solution, vowing to shepherd necessary change.
Monroe-Moreno, who comes from a law enforcement background with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, spoke emotionally about her heartbreak over Floyd’s death in Minneapolis at the hands of a white police officer. She described the image of “the knee on George Floyd’s neck” as a metaphor for the pain that has been building for years.
She suggested that maybe it’s time to evaluate the mental health of police officers as well as their physical condition, which is checked yearly.
Frierson talked about the need to repeat lessons he learned in his home 40 years ago in Compton, California, as he raised his son in Nevada.
And he drew on the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Ford spoke with emotion of his own frustrations even as he acknowledged his position as the top law enforcement officer in the state: “I have a badge.”
He spoke of accomplishments — body camera legislation passed five years ago — while telling a story of his son’s comments that it’s hard to get anyone to care about how black people are treated.
Ford condemned the shooting of Metro officer Shay Mikalonis, who is hospitalized at University Medical Center after he was shot late Monday night in a protest in front of Circus Circus on the Las Vegas Strip.
And he said the problem with systemic racism goes far beyond police training. “This is ingrained and instilled racism.”
WATCH: Sisolak’s video message
8 News Now will live stream the news conference.
Sisolak declined to go into specifics about a possible special session of the Nevada Legislature, but said, “I can assure you that what you have seen in the last week, 10 days, it’s a major priority for me … and we will address it.” Frierson also was adamant that the Legislature needed to do its job to ensure there was follow-through on changes.
Sisolak and Ford also commented on the double standard in law enforcement as evidenced by the recent protest over the Nevada shutdown at the Governor’s Mansion in Carson City.
While they didn’t challenge the group’s right to protest, both said the presence of assault rifles in a protest is inappropriate. Sisolak drew a comparison to the protests that followed Floyd’s death, and asked: “What do you think would have happened if those protesters were black?”