Roanoke city leaders respond to weekend protests

Published: Jun. 1, 2020 at 11:33 PM EDT
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Roanoke City leaders are responding to the protests that happened over the weekend in response to the death of George Floyd.

After hundreds of people made their voices heard, city leaders said a change is way overdue.

“There’s a big part of me that has to say shame on us that we haven’t done more, shame on us that we haven’t worked harder to overcome some of these difficulties,” said Councilman William Bestpitch.

Although officials said they can’t change the entire country, they can make a difference here in Roanoke.

“By golly it’s time for us to just quit fooling around and get to work,” Bestpitch said.

Chief Sam Roman said they’re always looking for ways to improve their work, but what happened to George Floyd does not represent this department.

“I think most law enforcement would agree that is something we do not want to see in our law enforcement profession,” Roman said. “I don’t really have to delineate between personal and professional in terms of how I feel. That was not right.”

Councilwoman Michelle Davis said the city needs a concrete plan and that it can’t come from government. Davis said when she got on council four years ago, she thought they would be able to do more than they’ve actually had the ability to do.

Council members said they’re proud of the people that took a peaceful stand. They are ready to help initiate a change in the city.

“I will do anything in my power to bring my voice and many that I know are ready to continue here together to find peaceful solutions. Let’s just continue to work here together. I know we can do it,” said Councilwoman Anita Price.

Monday, protesters could still be seen in the area between the courthouse and jail. Change will be a long road ahead, but city officials say they also plan to work on addressing issues of the school to prison pipeline and educating kids so they can go down the right path.

Copyright 2020 WDBJ7. All rights reserved.

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