HARRISONBURG, Va., July 8, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Civil rights leaders, business owners, and over two dozen concerned residents gathered in Harrisonburg's Court Square Friday morning to address the recent race-related wave of violence that has swept the nation. The group, led by Nexus Services, Inc. CEO Mike Donovan, Harriet Tubman Center Executive Director Stan Maclin, author and Chicago-based civil rights leader Rev. Frank Jackson, and Former Virginia State NAACP Executive Director King Salim Khalfani announced the creation of ARMED (Americans Resisting Minority and Ethnic Discrimination). The group will dispatch leaders and lawyers to Minneapolis, MN and Baton Rouge, LA to file lawsuits in those cities in light of the recent race-related killings.
The leaders denounced all of the acts of violence—against civilians and police officers, alike—that have transpired over the last 72 hours. The group particularly chided police agencies that tolerate police shootings by permitting officers involved to be treated differently than other citizens accused of shootings or killings.
"If you pick-up a gun and shoot somebody you should be in trouble unless you can demonstrate that you had a right to shoot that person," said Nexus Services CEO Mike Donovan. "We respect all life, and we obviously extend our condolences to all who have suffered loss of life over the last 72 hours, but there is not one life that means more than another. The life of a white cop in Dallas has the same value as the life of a black kid in Minnesota," added Donovan.
Stan Maclin of the Harriet Tubman Center highlighted concerns over race-based discrimination and police brutality. "We need to be concerned that an even spirit of hate has been unleashed across our country," said Maclin. Adding, "Deadly force should be a last resort. "It should not be a first resort. It is unacceptable that officers would shoot first and ask questions later, because when they ask questions later the person is dead."
The leaders also announced the launch of an initiative by ARMED (Americans Resisting Minority and Ethnic Discrimination) to insure that police agencies are always using body camera technology to guard against police misconduct. "We're standing courageously against racism and discrimination everywhere," said former Virginia State NAACP Executive Director King Salim Khalfani. "We are ARMED but not with weapons. [...] We are armed with information. We are armed with experience," said Rev. Frank Jackson.
The event concluded with a call for a fairer system of justice throughout the country and measures to ensure proper police conduct. "All police cars should have dash-cams. All officers should wear body cameras when interacting with the public," said Donovan. The Nexus Services CEO also announced that ARMED will be dispatching civil rights lawyers to communities in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis this weekend to support local victims of racial discrimination. "We will tell their stories," said Donovan in a clear call for action.
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SOURCE Nexus Services, Inc.