McKinney council member asks to proclaim state of emergency for black lives in Texas, is denied

A McKinney City Council member was denied a request for a proclamation issuing a state of emergency in Texas for black people.

A McKinney City Council member was denied a request for a proclamation issuing a state of emergency in Texas for black people.

McKinney City Council Member La'Shadion Shemwell asked the city to proclaim a "black state of emergency" in Texas during an Oct. 15 City Council meeting but was denied.

Shemwell's request followed comments from several citizens who voiced their concerns on the treatment of black people in the North Texas area. Their comments specifically mentioned the recent deaths of a black man and woman who were both shot inside of their homes by police officers during unrelated incidents in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

"Who do I tell my children to call when 911 is killing my people?" Shemwell said. "The state of Texas and its local governments have demonstrated a pattern of practices for discriminatory advised conduct by and through its law-enforcement officers and officials, which deprives black and brown citizens of rights protected for them by the Constitution and laws of United States. Whereas the state of Texas and its local governments have declared war on its black and brown citizens by conspiring to kill, injure, oppress, threaten, intimidate and to willfully deprive citizens of their constitutional rights. ... McKinney is not exempt from these atrocities."

Shemwell's proclamation went on to demand an update of Texas's use-of-force laws to teach officers to refrain from using deadly force when not necessary as well as require law-enforcement officers to undergo additional training on de-escalation tactics, and establish an external investigation process for incidents of alleged racial profiling and assaults, among other demands.

According to McKinney Mayor George Fuller, only mayors can make official proclamations. Fuller said he does not condone the language used in this proclamation and would not support it.

Fuller said he agreed with most of what Shemwell said toward the end of his statement, including that nobody should have to be afraid of police while innocently sitting in their own homes.

"But what I don't agree with ... [is] when it says 'the state of Texas and its local governments have declared war on its black and brown citizens,'" Fuller said during the meeting. "I happen to be part of a local government, and for me to agree to this proclamation would state that I think this local government had declared war on its black and brown citizens. ... It appalling to me to have those statements made and have those indictments of us as an elected body."

A proclamation was not made during the meeting. Council will meet again Nov. 5.
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