JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - As many protests continue across the U.S. and even in our community, the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is trying to bring some clarity to the pain you may be witnessing.
“Emotions are high and emotions are raw and people are feeling frustrated. They feel like they need to do something. They want to be heard," said Emma Agnew, president of the NAACP’s Craighead County chapter.
She added the “black community grieving.”
While she considers herself a peaceful protester and does not condone violence, Agnew understands why some of it is happening.
According to her, Dr. Martin Luther King said it best: riots are a result of people feeling hopeless.
“We hear you. We feel you. And we see you,” Agnew said Monday. "It is painful that you are hurting right now, but I will just say to my black brothers and sisters, and also to those in the community who support our efforts, that we are going to get through this. This is going to get better and we’re going to be okay.”
The NAACP is also calling for ways to curtail the black death rate and provide an equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic with these demands:
- Deliberate and intentional criminal justice reform that ensures the protection of Black lives, the expansion of the Home Confinement Pilot Program under the First Step Act, and a reduction in sentence for non-offenders.
- Expansive student loan relief to include a suspension of student loan payment until the economy gains strength, discharge of student loans for essential workers, and automatic cancellation of at least $20,000 in federal student loan debt for all.
- Expansion of Medicaid as a short-term measure to cover healthcare for those who are impacted by the pandemic.
- Federal funding for states to improve election administration and upgrade voting systems that comply with the CDC standard regarding COVID-19.
Region 8 News also spoke with Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliott on his thoughts about the recent protests in the city and he said this was a good opportunity to hear from those who are hurting.
“It gave us an opportunity to hear the anger and the concerns that people had.," Elliott said. “I just want them to realize that I hear you, I see you and I understand. But also, at this point, it’s time to move forward working together.”
He said he has one-on-one meetings with many community members to discuss their ideas and thoughts.
He is asking for solutions so if you would like to reach out to him, contact his office at (870) 933-4614.
If you would like to speak with the local chapter of NAACP, email firstname.lastname@example.org