PHOENIX (3TV/CBS5) -- It's week two of demonstrations across the nation and in the Valley. The protests were sparked by the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody n Minneapolis. For one Phoenix mother, the fight for racial equality is far from over.
“They have awakened the sleeping giant,” said Janelle Wood. “When George Floyd called for his mama, that evoked every mama in this nation to say, ‘enough is enough.’”
Wood is the founder of the non-profit "Black Mothers Forum." The group was established in 2016 after a series of shootings, including the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The initial purpose was to end police brutality, but Woods says they also ended up focusing on the “school to prison pipeline." Read the mission statement here.
This week, Woods met with Gov.Doug Ducey who tweeted about the discussion.
I’m grateful to meet with Janelle Wood, founder of the Black Mothers Forum. Keeping our kids and communities safe is a priority we all share. We’ve got work to do, and I look forward to building on the ideas discussed today. pic.twitter.com/3n98vuu2NI— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) June 9, 2020
Woods said the meeting happened thanks to Arizona State Representative Cesar Chavez. "It’s important for the governor to hear from black mothers regarding their deep pain right now," she said.
“He was very receptive, I believe,” Woods said. “I believe that he listened. What I explained to him is that I don't believe he's ever heard directly from a black mother who has birthed a black son into this world like myself and others."
The two talked about the importance of publicly denouncing racism and getting answers for the family of 28-year-old Dion Johnson, who was shot and killed by a DPS trooper last month, Woods said. That includes a full police report and the name of the trooper who was involved, she added.
Johnson's mother said this is something no mother should have to endure. "This hurts worse and worse," she said. "I can't eat. I can't sleep, and I have nightmares."
Among other issues was a change in police policies. “I would like a ceasefire,” she said. “Like you called a state emergency here, we would like you to call a ceasefire, where our officers are no longer shooting our unarmed black sons and daughters.”
Over the weekend, Woods’ group helped host a rally that was attended by city leaders, including Mayor Kate Gallego and Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams. The fact that they were there sends a message that they agree there is a problem with racism and systemic racism and it needs to be eradicated.
So what's next? Woods says she's proud of the peaceful demonstrators, including her 28-year-old son Bryce, who was in attendance on Saturday. There is a lot of work that still needs to be done and she’s encouraging them to stay committed. That includes getting on boards, commissions, going to task force meetings, etc.
“That means you need to be willing to put in the time, to sit in these rooms, look over these policies,” Woods said. “Look over how people are spending money. Look over curriculum and we start to challenge those particular practices and policies. But you know, it takes time.”
Her group, Black Mothers Forum, will be hosting Zoom conferences that the public is welcome to join. You can find information about meetings and other resources here.