Cleveland civil rights leaders: Progress has been made, but far from over one year after George Floyd’s murder

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) — One year ago, the murder of George Floyd, 46, awakened millions of people around the world.

And now, on this painful anniversary, calls to root out law enforcement misconduct and violence against black Americans continue…not only worldwide, but also here at home.

“It was unbelievable. Unfathomable.”

Civil rights legend and Cleveland native Rev. Dr. Theophilus Caviness remembering the first time he watched the disturbing video of former and now convicted Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressing a knee into Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes.

Calls for change and progress this time, he says, are finally being answered.

Caviness said, “I think for the first time, we have seen a transpiration of something that really causes America and democracy and all of what we talk about, freedom and the like, I think that challenges us.”

Five days after George Floyd’s murder, millions took to the streets to protest worldwide and here at home. But many now question if those protests and marches moved the needle on police reform.

“We have seen some progress. Still a lot of work to do,” says Larese Purnell, founder of the Cleveland-based organization, “The Real Black Friday,” says while progress is being made, the fight is far from over, as Congress has yet to exert its power to change American policing.

Just this past weekend, civil rights activists canvassed east side neighborhoods, in a push for independent investigations when police misconduct occurs.

Purnell says, “I have family members, I have loved ones who have been officers in this city. Who have served this city and I’ve watched them do some great work. That doesn’t speak to all people, but the ones who don’t handle us right, have to be held accountable.”

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