South Florida

State Lawmakers and South Florida Police Chiefs Discuss Justice System Changes

NBC Universal, Inc.

The time for marches winding through multiple South Florida neighborhoods and shutting down busy interstates may no longer be a daily occurrence, but the movement for fairness is continuing.

The calls for change are cutting across the board, not just concerning better policing and fairness in the justice system.

"I am hearing a lot of folks asking what’s next?,” said Lakshmi Ruiz, who organized a protest with the Dream Defenders in Miami-Dade.

Ruiz said the Dream Defenders are reaching out to minority businesses as part of an overall uplifting of the communities where many are located.

“We want small business owners and specifically black small business owners to join us," Ruiz said.

The group believes when the businesses work well, they provide jobs to locals and reduce the need for some to break the law just to stay afloat.

“We’ve actually, on our page, have retweeted small black businesses that you should eat at — Clyves, B & M Market — all of the barbeque joints, they are all black owned," Ruiz said.

At an online round table with Congresswoman Donna Shalala Wednesday, state lawmakers and South Florida police chiefs weighed in on the overall need for change. Coral Gables Police Chief Ed Hudak got right to the point.

"Here’s how I think we are going to stop the racism to everyone that’s on here," Hudak told the zoom audience. "If the police department, if that group of individuals and the group of Black Lives Matters come together and, no disrespect intended to any elected official or entity, if we come together across the county we can stop the racism that is systemic in the country."

Shalala said the move in Congress to improve policing that she is helping to sponsor is a step forward.

“This bill will not end racism. It's a firm step toward realizing racial justice. It's as good as anything we have ever done since the Civil Rights Act and I am proud to be a co-sponsor,” Shalala said.

When it comes to what some protestors call defunding or shifting of funds from police into other areas, some police officers too are saying there needs to be more mental health experts and social workers dealing with the calls they end up handling, which takes time from them handling actual emergencies.

One officer said that 911 has now become the number to call for everything.

Contact Us