With African-Americans comprising more than 60 percent of its population, the county not only faced the brunt of the COVID-19 outbreak in Maryland, but also a population deeply impacted by implications of Floyd’s death at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis.
County Executive Angela Alsobrooks framed both crises as widespread diseases.
“There’s COVID-19, and there’s another one that started hundreds of years ago. I’m talking about the pandemic of racism and inequality in this country,” Alsobrooks said on Thursday.
Alsobrooks vowed that changes are on the way, that it’s time to “reimagine the relationship” between law enforcement and the African-American community.
“The events of the past week have shown starkly how much pain has built up in this country,” said Alsobrooks, whose own grandfather was killed in South Carolina by a sheriff’s deputy in 1956.
“For African-Americans, having a negative interaction with police is like a bee sting – almost all of us have either had one in our lifetime, or we know someone who’s had one in their lifetime,” Alsobrooks said.
“We belong here – and black lives matter,” she added.
The school district has already taken steps – with the Board of Education voting to take the initial steps toward removing police officers from their facilities.
The move arrived in the wake of mass demonstrations throughout the region.
Alsobrooks declined to specify which reforms she has in mind, but said she is determined to “imagine a brighter future for our children.”
“The question is not whether we should make this future a reality, it’s just how,” she said.
Alsobrooks said announcements about these reforms would be made in the coming “days and weeks.”