Local company starts group calling for police accountability, end to racism
NEXUS Services, a Verona-based company, has now launched a group called ARMED (Americans Resisting Minority and Ethnic Discrimination) which group leaders say aims to denounce racism and civil rights violations.
The announcement comes just days after the police-involved shootings of two African-American men in Minneapolis and Baton Rouge. However, Rev. Frank Jackson with ARMED says the group is not anti-police.
"There are police departments, police officers, who praise us for what we're doing. Everything that we're doing is in a non-violent way," Jackson said. "Don't let the name 'ARMED' fool you. Again, we're armed because we're armed with information. We're smarter than people expect us to be."
Jackson and another organizer, King Salim Khalfani, will be going to Minneapolis and Baton Rouge to work with communities affected in those areas. NEXUS President Mike Donovan says they hope to eventually fight for these people in court.
"(We will) insist that cops play by the rules, honor and respect the power that we give them or we will take it away," Donovan said.
Donovan is also calling on police forces to use more body cameras, looking back to the police involved shooting of Michael Pierce in Harrisonburg.
"We already have that shadow over our community," Donovan said. "It's time for Harrisonburg, Rockingham County to move forward, embrace the technology and embrace the accountability that that technology provides; through accountability, you can have trust."
City of Harrisonburg spokesperson Mary Hope Vass says that the majority of Harrisonburg Police officers do wear body cameras, but Donovan says he wants all of the officers to have that technology.
This announcement comes amid a federal court battle between NEXUS and the Augusta County Sheriff over the use of an alleged "Hitler emoji" in correspondence between employees.
Stan Maclin, president of the Harriet Tubman Cultural Center, says Harrisonburg has had instances of racism.
"The Harrisonburg community is not absent from hate, we had an individual who works in the commissioner of revenue office who displayed a Hitler emoji at the use of taxpayer equipment and there's no repercussions about that at all," Maclin said. "It's like, so what?"
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