RICHMOND – Tonight, the Virginia NAACP announced a renewed commitment to finally ending qualified immunity for law enforcement officers in the Commonwealth of Virginia. After investigating multiple officer-involved incidents over the past five months, the Virginia NAACP has had enough and is demanding real change.
“We watched with horror the so-called traffic stop in Windsor,” said Virginia NAACP President Robert N. Barnette, Jr., referring to the now widely-circulated video clip of Caron Nazario, a Black Army second lieutenant who was pulled over in Windsor, Virginia. Despite being in uniform, Nazario immediately had guns drawn towards him by two town police officers.
In the clip, Nazario is frightened, stating that he is “honestly afraid to get out.” The officer then responds: “Yeah, you should be.” President Barnette reacted: “The fact that an officer who is supposed to ‘protect and serve’ felt embolden enough to state this is the root of the problem. This isn’t the first officer we have seen without fear of consequences for their actions.”
The issue of improving interactions between Black Virginians and law enforcement has been at the forefront of the Virginia NAACP’s advocacy and policy agenda this year. Just last week, the Virginia NAACP announced a renewed effort to find ways to ensure justice and transparency in officer-involved shootings.
In the wake of this recent incident, the Virginia NAACP hopes Virginia officials will use this as an opportunity to make real change. “While we applaud the immediate reactions of Virginia’s government officials, we believe that now is the time for Governor Ralph Northam to call a special session of the Virginia General Assembly to pass House Bill 2045 sponsored by Delegate Jeff Bourne to finally end qualified immunity,” said Virginia NAACP Executive Director Da’Quan Marcell Love. He went on to say: “The Virginia NAACP strongly believes that the Commonwealth must end qualified immunity NOW. Black Virginians can’t wait until next January.”
Expressing a renewed sense of urgency, the Virginia NAACP has issued a call to its more than 100 local units to begin fundraising immediately to support this advocacy campaign’s lobbying efforts. A campaign website has been launched at http://endqiva.org to accept individual contributions.