ROANOKE, Va. – A group of Roanoke activists stood on the steps of the old Municipal Building and laid out their social justice goals for the city Thursday morning.
The group, led by Tatiana Durant of No Justice No Peace Roanoke and Bernadette Lark of the Southwest Virginia Poor People’s Campaign, outlined tis seven benchmarks for Roanoke’s leaders.
In order, they are:
- Decreasing the budget of the Roanoke Police Department
- Decreasing the budget of the Roanoke City Jail and the Roanoke County Sheriff’s Office
- Removing school resource officers and the Drug Awareness Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program from Roanoke City Public Schools
- Decriminalizing drug use
- Decriminalizing theft and statue removal
- Re-training police to be more community-oriented
- Investing in underfunded communities
The event overlooked the ‘End Racism Now’ mural on Campbell Avenue, which was painted earlier this month. Durant criticized the mural as a symbolic gesture when organizational action is needed.
“A mural does not feed a family,” Durant said. “We don’t want to be pacified by a mural. We are simply here to say ‘There’s still work to be done. There’s still not enough funding in Gainsboro’s public schools. There’s still not a grocery store in Gainsboro.’ There’s plenty of work to be done.”
The speech came two months to the day after a tense protest outside of the Roanoke Police Department.