Shift in State’s Priorities Needed to Prevent Similar Incident in South Dakota
As thousands of South Dakotans respond to the murder of George Floyd with protests and marches across the state, the ACLU of South Dakota supports the protestors’ cause and is calling for meaningful change for people who have been subjected to systemic or individual racism at the hands of the police.
The frustration and anger seen pouring out in the streets is the result of past promises for reform unfulfilled coupled with the tragic ever-growing list of names of people of color who have been killed by police, the ACLU of South Dakota said.
“We’re troubled by a continued and pervasive insistence that ‘these things don’t happen in South Dakota.’ South Dakota is not immune to systemic racism,” said Heather Smith, executive director of the ACLU of South Dakota. “Invariably, people of color in South Dakota face systemic barriers to education, health care, employment and justice. In order to move from a place of outrage to a place of healing, we must see real accountability from police departments, the legal system and our elected officials — and that’s just the bare minimum. There must be healing and a fundamental shift in our state’s priorities. It will take all of us acknowledging and fighting against racism to prevent the next tragic incident from happening here.”
The ACLU of South Dakota is ready to work with lawmakers and stakeholders across the state to create policies that can begin to break down the unchecked systemic racism that’s brought us to this point.
About the ACLU of South Dakota
The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU of South Dakota is part of a three-state chapter that also includes North Dakota and Wyoming. The team in South Dakota is supported by staff in those states.
The ACLU believes freedoms of press, speech, assembly, and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection and privacy, are fundamental to a free people. In addition, the ACLU seeks to advance constitutional protections for groups traditionally denied their rights, including people of color, women, and the LGBTQ communities. The ACLU of South Dakota carries out its work through selective litigation, lobbying at the state and local level, and through public education and awareness of what the Bill of Rights means for the people of South Dakota.