By Ibrahim Samra. | WNDU 16 News Now (NBC, South Bend)
June 1, 2020
(Watch three videos of local community leaders’ responses to George Floyd’s death, including that of Faith in Indiana’s The Rev. James Williams, on the WNDU website.)
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) – As protests continue across the country over the police-involved death of George Floyd, many local leaders are looking to what’s next for their community.
Gladys Muhammad, who spent the better part of the last 50 years advocating for justice and reform in South Bend, says she was in tears when saw what had happened to Floyd just one week ago.
Muhammad says she is not surprised by the reaction from people who continue to protest and while she condemns the looting and the rioting, it all has stemmed from the anger that has built up from generation to generation regarding racism that continues in America.
Despite spending most of her life advocating against racism in her community, Muhammad says she can still taste it in people’s hearts.
“For me, as a black American, I feel it. I taste it. I smell it. I touch it. I see it in your eyes. I see it in your body language. We are experts detecting racism, we all are. These young people are calling it like it is. This is it, and we are angry, and we are tired,” Muhammad says.
Lynn Coleman, a South Bend native who spent the better half of his life as a South Bend Police officer, says what happened to Floyd was murder.
Moving forward, Coleman says it all comes down to leadership. Where that leadership will come from, Coleman is unsure. But what he is sure about is if people, different and alike, learn to respect one another for who they are, change will come.
“Whether it’s police, teaching, or medical field, what’s wrong with treating people right? Good morning. Thank you. Have a good day. I’m sorry. Excuse me. What can I do to help you? You know, simple things that we reach out to ourselves as human beings, not as black, or white, or Asian, or Hispanic, not as gay, not a straight, or left or right, but as human beings like God made us to be. What’s wrong with just being kind to folks? And I think that is where we start,” Coleman says.
As for Faith In Indiana’s James Williams, he says it is up to the next generation of voices and leaders from all races, not just black, to come together and put an end what he and many before him have tried to do: end social and systematic racism.
“If you want to have a future in this country, now is the time to be heard through protesting, through peace — not patience — peace…taken by force through your words, through your actions with keeping in mind that everybody has a right to their personal property. People work hard,” Williams says.
Muhammad, Coleman, and Williams all say they hope the people of South Bend, as well as people from cities across the country, can come together to make a difference and give a voice to people who are subject of social and systematic racism.