One year after George Floyd’s murder, Rogue Valley activists say more work remains

SOUTHERN OREGON — Local leaders in Rogue Valley continue to fight for racial equality, as they reflected on one year since the murder of George Floyd.

Tuesday May 25th, marked one year since George Floyd was murdered by former police officer Derek Chauvin. Chauvin was convicted in April on all three counts of second-degree murder, third degree murder, and manslaughter.

The more than nine minute video that showed Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck, sparked unrest and calls for change across the nation. Protests were held in cities like Medford, Ashland and Grants Pass.

“First thing that popped in my mind when I saw the video was how sorry I felt for [Floyd] and his family,” DL Richardson, Equity specialist with Medford School District and activist with Black Southern Oregon Alliance, told NBC5. “Secondly I said to myself, here we go again.”

Ashland’s Chief of Police Tighe O’Meara, condemned the actions of Chauvin, and noted the importance of changing the system.

“Any police officer who exhibits what [Chauvin] exhibited that day, has to be held accountable,” O’Meara said. “No one’s above the law.”

Within the past year, several police reform bills passed through the Oregon Legislature including a ban on chokeholds.

Richardson and Ashland High School assistant principal Becca Laroi, continue to organize community events and conversations on race even in school. Laroi says its critical for people to understand the harm for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) students when there’s a lack of representation in their community.

“You need to change hearts, and we need to put policies in place,” Laroi said. “Especially when people aren’t ready to hear that, or when its not speaking to them personally yet.”

Last month, Black Alliance and Social Empowerment group partnered with Jackson County Sheriff’s, Medford Police District, Central Point Police Department and Ashland Police Department. Their plan is to create a community liaison to help build a better relationship between local law enforcement and people of color.

RELATED STORY: BASE partners with Jackson County police departments to ensure racial equality in communities

Richardson says its important to continue having community conversations and lobbying local leaders to help remove systemic racism.

“Talk is not enough, we can always be sorry but after a while, I don’t care about you being sorry,” Richardson said. I wanna see what you’re doing about it. I think we are at the point of moving and having us not just talk about making a change, but actually doing it.”

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