On Wednesday, Americans witnessed another shooting of an unarmed black man at the hands of a white police officer. This weekend, the NAACP will be marching to bring awareness and an end these incidents as well as other social justice issues including voting rights, across the country.
As part of our View From the Top series, Cornell William Brooks, president of the NAACP, joins Here & Now's Robin Young to talk about "America's Journey For Justice," the march he will be leading from Selma, Ala. to the nation's capitol.
Interview Highlights: Cornell William Brooks
On the recent shooting death of Samuel Dubose in Cincinnati
"Here we have a father of 10 on the eve of an engagement, who is pulled over in a routine traffic stop, and he is, in effect, executed on dash cam. It can't be that we apply the death penalty for routine traffic stop. In any event, this represents excessive use of force.
"... Where we find that African-American men are 21 times more likely to lose their lives at the hands of police than their white counterparts, if it is not racist, it is certainly racially-disproportionate, racially-disparate. But in any event, it is certainly troubling to Americans of any hue and any heritage, because this runs counter to our highest constitutional and moral values."
On whether progress is being made in America on issues of race
"When we begin to empathize with one another and say to ourselves, 'if I were in that situation, how would I be treated? Does it matter if my heart is wrapped in black skin or brown skin or white skin?' As citizens under the same Constitution, aren't we entitled to fair and equal treatment. Americans from all across the length and breadth of this country, when you consider these facts, consider this unrelenting stream of tragedies, from Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, to Sandy Bland, we have to ask ourselves, 'Can't we do better?' And the answer to that question is yes. There are police departments that do do it better."
On advice to young people on how to interact with police
"We have, of course, encouraged people to interact with police officers in a civil, polite fashion, and yet, be aware of their rights. But I want to pose this question to you: Where in the Constitution does it prescribe the death penalty for discourteous behavior? The reality here is police officers are charged with protecting people, whether or not they are courteous, whether they've had a good day or a bad day. And so smoking a cigarette should not subject you to be threatened to being tazed."
On how law enforcement could improve
"What we'd like to see happen here is effective training of police officers in de-escalation techniques, No. 1. No. 2: Police officers are trained to encourage community trust rather than precipitating distrust. [No. 3], that police officers are trained not to profile and to use evidence-based policing."
This segment aired on July 30, 2015.