Local pastor, expert talk the power of Black Lives Matter protests

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Black Lives Matter protests are continuing across the country. With the large crowds and passionate pleas for justice, it begs the question: what will actually come out of all this?

Since the killing of George Floyd, there has been a massive amount of energy behind the Black Lives Matter movement — more energy than maybe ever before. 

8 News Now asked a local pastor and a UNLV professor if this means there will be lasting change.

“I’m 49-years-old. I’ve never seen justice served,” said Rev. Kelcey West, senior pastor for Nehemiah Ministries in Las Vegas.

But Rev. West is hopeful change is coming. He has taken part in some of the recent protests in Las Vegas. He described them as familiar, yet fresh.

“From the late 1980s, to the 1992 riots, we’ve been here before. This one is different because the whole world is watching,” Rev. West said. “The awareness is where it needs to be. Now, we need Phase 2.”

Tyler Parry, an assistant professor of African American and African Diaspora Studies at UNLV, agreed that the current moment feels different.

“This is a moment in which I’ve, for the first time in a while, felt optimistic,” Parry said.

Parry said progress seems more possible now because the “great person” narrative of the Civil Rights Era no longer exists.

“This movement will be very hard to fracture, in my opinion, simply because there is no singular figure,” Parry said. “There are certain spokespeople, those who have elevated voices via social media, but they don’t speak for the movement in it’s entirety, and if they were to leave tomorrow, the movement could continue.”

But Parry added one potential problem of the great groundswell is a lack of clarity.

“There’s a necessity of coherence if legislative change is the ultimate goal,” Parry said.

President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order calling for police reform. Although activists wanted more of an overhaul of the system, it is a first step.

“There’s at least now a precedent established that it’s not impossible to change the legislation,” Parry said.

West said he is looking forward to what is to come.

“My hope is to see laws written,” Rev. West said. “I have to believe that in my lifetime, I am going to see this change.”

Experts tell us landmark victories in passing legislation around policing, body cameras and mass incarceration are likely the next step in this movement.

There is a poll on the 8 News Now Facebook page where you can join in on the conversation.

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