East Texas leaders reflect on race relations with law enforcement one year after George Floyd’s death

Updated: May. 27, 2021 at 10:24 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - One year ago this week, protests were held worldwide after the death of George Floyd with many calling for police reform in America.

Thursday night, local leaders reflected on the past year in a town hall on race relations with law enforcement.

“We did see a lot of local activism here in the East Texas community, and I think that speaks volumes. I think maybe 20, 25 years ago you would not have seen those same people downtown on the square or you know marching around and so I think that speaks a lot to how far Tyler, Texas has come,” said Smith County Democratic Party Precinct Chair LaShun Roy.

Tyler Mayor Don Warren said going out in the community is playing a big part in repairing relations.

“We meet at a church, and you have pastors, and you have citizens, and you have police.,” Warren said. “We eat together and we pray together. We discuss topics that everybody wants to talk about or needs to talk about.”

When it comes to making changes in the legal system, Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putman said the most meaningful change often happens at the local level.

“The one-size-fits-all that comes from the federal level, it often creates a lot of work for local departments, but it doesn’t always enact the change that they’re looking for,” Putman said.

While time has passed, for many, the death of George Floyd is still fresh on their minds - something Tyler Police Chief Jimmy Toler said he understands.

“We’ve come a long way, but there’s a long way to go. There’s never gonna be an end to this journey, there’s never gonna be absolute closure because I always think we always have the opportunity to improve and always have the opportunity to keep moving forward,” Chief Toler said.

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