Arkansas Representative Vivian Flowers was recently the target of racial bigotry, but now she’s turning the incident into an opportunity for positive change. Rep. Flowers held court in the state Capitol building on Monday, and laid out clear-cut solutions to make our communities safer.
Flowers called for the fair application of law enforcement’s use of lethal force policies, not enabling people who abuse the 911 system to target black people, and a more comprehensive use of body cameras.
“You shouldn’t be a target just because you are black. You shouldn’t be told to “drop dead” for talking-and-leaning-on-your-car-while-black. The police shouldn’t arrive with guns drawn toward the victims of racially based harassment,” said state Rep. Vivian Flowers (D-Pine Bluff).
“The very scope of the justification for deadly force is something that we have to look at. We want our police officers to be safe, but in order for them to be safe, there have to be very clear rules of engagement, and there has to be a clear and consistent application of that law for everyone. Whether you are a victim or a suspect, you are treated with dignity, your life is preserved when at all possible.”
“Ryan had walked Vivian to her car about four doors down from my house, and they lingered a moment in front of her car finishing their conversation. The car was parked in front of a neighbor’s house, and those neighbors began harassing Vivian and Ryan, telling them they didn’t belong there and yelling at them to leave. (If you don’t know or haven’t yet guessed, Ryan and Vivian are black, and our aggressive neighbors are white.) Two men exited the house and entered the yard, approaching them threateningly. Ryan and Vivian both called the police.
Meanwhile, an older white woman from the other side of the street came outside and joined in yelling at Ryan and Vivian. She told them to leave and to “drop dead.” Then the sound of a gunshot rang out from the woman’s house. Ryan and Vivian each called 911 again to report the gunfire.
I didn’t know yet about the neighbors and the arguing and the gunshot. I came outside of my house after getting Vivian’s text to find police officers approaching with their guns pointed at Vivian and Ryan. I ran into the street, yelling to the police officers that they had their guns drawn on my friends. They slowed to tell me they had a call about two people arguing in the street and gunfire. I reiterated that they were my friends, that one was a state legislator and the other was a candidate for office, that I KNEW they didn’t have a gun and weren’t arguing, and that the officers didn’t need to aim weapons at them.
Then, they turned their weapons on me and ordered me back to my house…”