As you may have read in yesterday's New York Times, we've just filed an important new lawsuit against the town of Homer, Louisiana, where an elderly black man was shot dead by a whitewhile standing harmlessly on his own front porch.
Our suit seeks justice for Bernard Monroe's widow and his five children. But there's also a larger issue at stake — the pattern of racial profiling and of African Americans that led directly to Monroe's death.
Last year, the white police chief in the town told a newspaper: "If I see three or four young black men walking down the street, I have to stop them and check their names. I want them to be afraid every time they see the police that they might get arrested."
Monroe, 73, a retiree known as "Mr. Ben," was enjoying a gathering of family and friends on a mild winter day last February when two whitepulled up in front of the modest wood-frame house he had called home for the past 25 years.
For no good reason, the officers chased his adult son into the house. They had no warrant, and nobody there was wanted for any crime. When Mr. Monroe walked up the front porch steps during the commotion to check on his elderly wife, an officer who was still inside the house opened fire through the screen door, hitting him multiple times in the chest, back and arms.
This terrible tragedy should never have happened. And it wouldn't have happened if the police had acted responsibly. But, apparently, this type of police intimidation was well known to African Americans in the town.
Earlier on the day Monroe was killed, the police officer who fired the deadly shots had also searched and questioned other African Americans who were doing nothing more than sitting in their yard, minding their own business.
I'm outraged that this type of racial profiling is still occurring almost half a century after Jim Crow segregation was struck down in the South. The people of Homer deserve a police department that protects, rather than harasses them.
We're determined to get justice for the Monroe family and to stop unlawful discrimination.
The dangers of bigotry are clear. Please speak out against racial profiling and every form of discrimination. Thank you for supporting our work and for everything you do to promote justice in your own community.