August 28, 2020
On the heels of President Trump's speech at the RNC from the White House, thousands descended on the capital today to commemorate the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington.
Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, said that in the midst of social unrest and senseless violence, the march is about emphasizing the importance of voting in this year's presidential election.
"We want to make sure that we use this moment to pause, to re-energize, to focus on marching to the polls in November," Johnson told Cheddar.
While many are expected to show up to the march in-person, organizers are also taking the event online for those unable to attend or who prefer to stay away from crowds amid the pandemic.
Meanwhile, as President Trump continues to wage a war against the mail-in voting process, Johnson and the NAACP are looking for the government to restore the "stripped" Voting Rights Act.
"In order for this democracy to truly work, we must allow access to the ballot box and unfortunately, we have reduced the administration of elections to a partisan consideration," Johnson said.
As the issue of policing in America hangs in the backdrop of the march's mission, Johnson said it is an issue that has to be addressed. When it comes to policies regarding policing, there has to be a process for accountability, he continued, stating that it's imperative other services receive the funding needed so that police are not required to serve functions for which they are not trained.
"We have to take a serious look at the budget of police to make sure we're not asking officers to serve the role of mental health providers; to serve the role of anything else other than policing," Johnson said.
For Johnson, it's all about leveling the playing field and making policing in the U.S. uniform across the country.
"Some of the wealthiest communities across this country see a really robust preventive program in place. Low income areas and areas where African Americans are being patrolled — we don't have enough preventive measures so things will not escalate as we've seen over the recent few months," he explained.