RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Circumstances change - just like leadership (and technology). What remains, however, is an insatiable need for new ideas to combat old problems.
The reverberating frustrations among minorities were evident again Tuesday as the North Carolina Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice held its first of three public hearings.
"I think it was a great comment session," Kerwin Pittman, a community activist and member of the task force, told ABC11. "What really rings clear to my mind is one of the steps that we must do is look at the past to move forward."
The 23-member task force meets every two weeks as laid out in the Executive Order signed by Gov. Roy Cooper in June.
"George Floyd was not the first victim of excessive force," Cooper said at the time. "Too many other people of color have been harassed, harmed, injured or killed. Added together, their lives and their stories have made this spotlight too bright to ignore."
Cooper further acknowledged that within North Carolina and across the country, members of the Black community are disproportionately victimized by the criminal justice system -- often unfairly. He cited multiple statistics, including that Black adults, are nearly six times more likely to be incarcerated than White adults nationwide, and Black men are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by law enforcement officers.
In addition, Cooper said that when convicted of the same crime, Black men receive, on average, a prison sentence 20 percent longer than White men.
"These numbers are stark. They tell a story that Black Americans have been living and telling us every day - even when there's no spotlight," Cooper said, acknowledging the trauma that incidents such as Floyd's death inflict upon the Black community. "It's important to recognize these numbers and identify the disparities. But it's even more important and challenging to do something about it."
The Task Force has 23 members from a variety of social, economic, religious, geographic and professional backgrounds:
Per the Executive Order, Cooper expects a full report with actionable recommendations by December 1.