Democratic Sen. Joel Ford Thursday urged his party to speak out about this week’s police shootings, warning that it can’t take the votes of African-Americans for granted.
“(The N.C. Democratic Party) silent while 45% of your base is affected by police shootings,” he tweeted. “This is not just a black problem, it’s an American problem .… You can’t turn NC blue without the black vote!”
Ford was reacting to the shootings by police of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota.
Philando Castile, a school cafeteria worker in St. Paul, was killed Wednesday. A day earlier, 37-year-old Alton Sterling was shot by police in Baton Rouge.
After Ford’s tweet and Facebook posting, Democratic Party executive director Kimberly Reynolds issued a statement saying the party was “outraged.”
“These shootings have become far too frequent and must be addressed,” she said. “Law enforcement officers have incredibly difficult and important jobs and deserve proper training and support. But we must not tolerate the repeated killing of unarmed African-Americans. Black lives matter.
“(L)aw enforcement officers … must also be held responsible and accountable for their actions and meaningful steps must be taken to prevent these shootings from happening in the future.”
The campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper also addressed the shootings.
“No one should fear for their safety because of the color of their skin,” said spokesman Jamal Little. “While most law enforcement officers serve bravely and honorably under stressful conditions, no one is above the law.”
Ford, who is African-American, chaired Mecklenburg County’s Democratic Party from 2008-2001. He took over during a period of racial strife involving the selection of a new sheriff.