“As President of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP and a U.S. Air Force, retired veteran of two foreign wars, I stand in solidarity with President Valerie Butler of the Isle of Wight chapter of the NAACP in support of Second Lieutenant (2LT) Caron Nazario, U.S. Army.
2LT Nazario was correct to pull over his vehicle in a well-lit location at night in Windsor, Virginia. The U.S. Army officer calmly shared with the two law enforcement officers on the scene that he was afraid to get out of his vehicle and to comply with their very conflicting commands to keep his hands in the air, unbuckle his seat belt and to get out the vehicle while these officers had their weapons drawn on him. When 2LT Nazario calmly asked why he was stopped and what was going on, Officer Joe Guiterrez yelled, “you’re fixin’ to ride the lightning, son!” “Ride the lighting” is a slang term for execution.
When 2LT Nazario said he was afraid, Guiterrez said, “yeah, you should be.” Guiterrez continued to escalate the situation by pepper spraying 2LT Nazario in the face while his hands were clearly in the air. 2LT Nazario was then kicked and cuffed in uniform by Officer Guiterrez.
And to those police officers across the nation who continue to show a racist contempt for veterans of color, we haven’t forgotten how the U.S. military got racially desegregated. In 1946, just three hours after World War II veteran Sergeant Issac Woodard was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army and still in his uniform on his way home to NC, police officers from South Carolina detained him, beat him in an alley,and blinded him in both eyes.
Moved to action by this attack on Sergeant Woodard, on June 29, 1947, President Harry S. Truman became the first American president to address the NAACP and pledged his support for upholding the civil rights of all Americans. In 1948, Truman signed Executive Order 9981 establishing the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services and committing the U.S. government to integrating the racially segregated U.S. Armed Forces.
A million times, police officers like Derek Chauvin, Joe Gutierrez and Daniel Crocker, have broken their oaths to serve and protect, defied the laws of this nation, and have killed Black and Brown people with impunity. Sometimes a leader like Truman steps up and advocates for change; but people must always step up in defense of their brothers and sisters when then those in power will not. The moral arc will bend towards justice if we have the courage to make it so.
To our friends who stand with us for justice, we hold you in our hearts, working hand in hand. But to those who would do us wrong, we will hold you accountable to the fullest extent of the law until justice and freedom ring for all.
Please share Second Lieutenant Nazario’s story, and please join us in working towards a world where this doesn’t keep happening.
Law enforcement officers across the nation need to understand that, as Black and Brown people, many of us are understandably afraid during a routine traffic stop. When weapons are drawn and conflicting commands are issued, one wrong move in the eyes of the officers may cost our lives. Don’t put us into this untenable position. Think about us – because we want to go home to our families too.”
Gerald D. Givens Jr
President, Raleigh-Apex NAACP
U.S. Air Force, Retired
The Virginian-Pilot Body Camera Footage Shows Windsor Traffic Stop: https://youtu.be/ktiozJt7WJQ
RALEIGH-APEX BRANCH NAACP
#5436 P.O. Box 25427
Raleigh, NC 27611
PAYABLE TO: Raleigh-Apex NAACP