CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — After eight straight nights of demonstrations, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak and other state Democratic leaders vowed to respond to the anger and demands of protestors in light of the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.
With Attorney General Aaron Ford, Nevada State Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson and Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno flanking him 6 feet (1.8 meters) apart in masks, Sisolak voiced support for the protesters. When the legislature convenes next, he hopes to sign bills to address systemic racism he said remains prevalent throughout Nevada and the United States.
“I can assure you that what you have seen in the last week or 10 days is a major priority for me. It’s a major priority for every single individual standing behind me,” the first-term Democrat said at a Friday morning news conference.
None of the elected officials proposed concrete ideas for new legislation. Instead, they stressed that, as the protests continue to rage, they want to listen to the protesters’ objectives before proposing specific bills.
“Unfortunately, sometimes, as elected officials, we act and then we listen. Now’s the time to listen. I’ve watched, I’ve listened and I’m hearing what people have to say. We need to gather more information,” Sisolak said.
The Legislature is scheduled to meet in 2021. But the onset of COVID-19 and subsequent tax revenue loss have spurred calls for the governor to convene a special session.
Sisolak hasn’t announced plans for a special session, but he hinted one could be on the horizon and said he was working with state legislators and his staff on scheduling and determining what a special session agenda may entail.
Frierson, the Assembly Speaker, said recent bills to require de-escalation and implicit bias training had put Nevada at the forefront of policing reform.
“We have been active in Nevada. We’ve passed policies here that have prevented us from being Minneapolis,” he said.
Frierson also said Nevada needs to collect additional data to update the 2001 study on racial profiling to better understand how different communities throughout the state interact with police.
Monroe-Moreno, a former correctional officer with the North Las Vegas Police Department, said she was “truly heartbroken” over the recent deaths of black Americans as well as the struggles facing law enforcement.
“I cry for my black community and the struggles to be seen as equal,” she said. “I cry for my brothers and sisters in blue who are doing the work with honor day in and day out.”
Monroe-Moreno said Floyd’s death at the hands of law enforcement in conjunction with the fact that black Americans have suffered disproportionately from COVID-19 and the subsequent economic fallout overwhelmed her.
“So many people feel there has been a knee on their neck for so many years, in so many different situations,” she said.
Sam Metz is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.”