CASPER, Wyo – A few more than a dozen citizens gathered Sunday evening April 25 in downtown Casper for a “silent vigil for peace.”
After a walk down David Street to the Hall of Justice, the leaders delivered their message: Racism – both structural and among individuals – is alive and well in America and in Casper.
“There’s always been a lot of racism in this city, and it doesn’t stop,” RC Johnson, Speech-Language Pathologist for the Elderly in Casper, said during his speech.
The article continues below …
“We had a young lady in our public schools who received this…” Johnson said, and copies of the message were distributed. It was associated with an image of the KKK members and a text celebrating the racist feelings of the group, with an insult.
“And our school resource officers couldn’t find a way to fix this,” Johnson said. “Look at what that does to a student and the stress it puts on a person. This is all happening constantly at Casper. Let’s not be silent.
Johnson also referred to the “monumental judgment” in the conviction of former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin this week in the murder of George Floyd last year.
Johnson said the move was meant to be “an inflection point” in the “model” of unarmed black men being killed by police.
“But the day after the man was convicted, there was another murder of another black man. So now we have to ask ourselves what should policing be? ”
Johnson said there are “two avenues for policing America,” one for whites and one for blacks. She later pointed to the harsher penalties for crack compared to powdered cocaine (the former used disproportionately in black communities) as an example.
“Maybe what we don’t need is a police department, but a ‘public security department’.”
Jimmy Simmons, vice president of the Pikes Peak Southern Christian Leadership Conference and former head of the Casper branch of the NAACP, began his speech by illustrating the broader impact of discrimination.
“Friday, a 12 year old child [white] boy committed suicide in Colorado Springs. His peers kept calling him a racist.
“This new revolution must start in the heart, it would lead to reconciliation, not revenge,” Simmons said.
Simmons told Oil City News on Friday that his movement is seeking institutional changes, such as eliminating qualified immunity for police officers and supporting federal investigations into structural racism in school districts, banks and housing.
“Because of racism, 60% of black wealth was lost in this country ten to 12 years ago,” he said on Sunday. “Only 3% of loans go to blacks in this country. We are hunted and killed without having a weapon. “
He expressed doubt that justice would come from institutions built by “former slave masters”.
“Because when you live in another man’s country, under another man’s flag, under another man’s government, and under another man’s justice system, you have to look to that other man.” man for justice, ”Simmons said. “And you will never get it.”
“This is why new cities are being built in Africa, Ghana, Senegal… and south of Macon, Georgia, to give black people the opportunity to live free from this racism. Some say it can’t be fixed, so they have the option to move somewhere else. Simmons said.
“Dr. [Martin Luther King] once said: ‘We must live together as brothers, or we will die together as fools.’ “
Related stories from Oil City News: