The wave of protests and riots that convulsed the U.S. over the weekend was the result of a simmering rage in the black community that has been building for a long time, said Leslie Ricard Chambers, deputy executive counsel for Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards.
"This isn't something that was spontaneously done," Chambers said in an interview with Cheddar Monday morning, as cities across the country woke up after another night of unrest.
"This is the manifestation of frustration over a long period of time of inaction by folks who are supposed to be in a position to serve and protect us."
"People are tired of a system that doesn't work for them," she added.
Chambers, a former prosecutor in Baton Rouge who now works under Louisiana's Democratic governor, said that the confluence of recent high-profile killings of black Americans — from George Floyd in Minneapolis to Breonna Taylor in Louisville to Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia — has led to a resurgence of "hurt that has been felt in the black community" that predates any of those tragic deaths.
Set against the backdrop of a pandemic that is disproportionately affecting people of color, Chambers said law enforcement needs to better understand — and empathize — with people who are "fed up" about "the totality of all the circumstances" affecting their communities.
The "foremost duty" of law enforcement is to serve and protect, Chambers said, adding that moments of civil unrest are what police are trained for. "If you're a law enforcement officer, your job is not going to be pretty every day," she said.