ORLANDO, Fla. – Dozens of young adults from several Orlando organizations gathered together on the steps of City Hall Monday to deliver a plan of action to the city council in response to the death of George Floyd, who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer, prompting protests across the country this week.
The Orlando Youth In Action Movement developed a 10-point action agenda detailing changes they want to see, including the process of hiring officers and training, changes to the Orlando police citizen review board and revisions to the state’s hate crime law.
Organizer Lawanda Thompson said their plan of action is about more than “protesting and being loud and chanting.”
“It’s not about any of that. It’s about change,” Thompson said. “Sometimes those things happen because people don’t understand how we get to change. The city council members, the mayor, and a lot of other people high on the totem pole are hard to reach sometimes.”
About 30 group members peacefully gathered at City Hall where they handed their signed agenda to a security guard to give to the city council. Due to the coronavirus, the council meetings are happening virtually otherwise the plan would have been given in person.
“In a historic move the youth of Orlando, Fla. organized their peaceful efforts into a 10-point plan that will be shared with the city of Orlando,” a statement from the group read. “Through tears and frustration and with the held of many grassroots organizations with boots on the ground, the youth of Orlando were courageous and have forged their own destiny to bring about chance in their community.”
The group told News 6 they are being proactive and offering concrete suggestions on how to improve the community.
“We’re trying to make sure we’re putting pen to paper and we’re tying to make sure our energy is galvanized in a way that is positive and reinforce what we want to happen,” Thompson said. “Which is change.”
Here are a few of the things the group would like to see to improve relations between the community and law enforcement.
- Citizen Review Board: According to the action plan, the group would like to see the Orlando Police Department Citizen Review Board be given the full power to terminate officers and independently investigations Orlando police officers. The group also asks the CRB agenda be available and the meetings be moved to 6 p.m. when more community members can attend.
- Stand Your Ground: Specifically, the Orlando group wants Orange County Sheriff John Mina to fight for changes to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.
- Orlando Police Department: The group asks the city to update its hiring processes that allows only college graduates to be acceptable applicants. It also asks potential officers to have taken an African studies or humanities course. For current officers, the group would like to see a cultural competency course be administered.
- Excessive Force: The group asks the Orlando Police Department clearly define its use of excessive force and deescalation techniques and that those policies be made available on the OPD website homepage.
Some of the group members said Floyd’s death was the latest in a series of deadly encounters they remember.
“I remember crying after the death of Trayvon Martin. I’m tired of being sick to my stomach and I’m tired of crying,” Faith Bismuke said. “Now is time to be motivated. We are motivated.”
For others on the steps of city hall asking for change, they were motivated by the fear that what happened to Floyd could happen to someone they known. Group member Tre 'Illi said she worries she’ll get a call one day that her little brothers have been killed or her father.
“We’ve been dealing with this for over 60-something years. We’re tired of fighting. You can see it in our eyes. You can see the pain,” she said. “Some of us can’t relate to what’s going on, and that’s fine. But the only thing we ask is that you stand with us.”
View the full action plan below: