By MIKE MCGEE
The Dallas Examiner
Even as cities around the state – as large as Houston or as small as Alpine – continue to see waves of public demonstrations against police brutality as a result of the #BlackLivesMatter and #GeorgeFloyd social media campaigns, legislators at the capitol building continue to strive for measurable change as well. For Royce West, state senator for House District 23, that means crafting policy inside the power corridors of Austin as well as stepping outside into the streets to fellowship with constituents. The senator spoke with protesters May 29 in Dallas and June 6 in Austin as part of his role as a lawmaker.
“When I was speaking to the protesters, I was urging them … that they had a righteous cause, that it would be up to them to make the change that is necessary, that they’re already impacting people’s thinking about the change that was necessary, and I encouraged them to continue to protest – and make sure they shunned those persons that were attempting to hijack the message,” said West, who is also a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.
He especially wanted to make certain that local protestors downtown understood “their state senator was with them,” and recalled that the reactions that he got from the assembled groups in both cities were positive.
Additionally, West wants area residents to understand that his position is not just one of talk. He and other members of the state congress are working on introducing new legislation that will help make the streets safer and generate more trust towards law enforcement.
“By the time this goes to print the Texas Legislative Black Caucus will have had a virtual town hall meeting here in North Central Texas with some questions from the community about what the priorities would be,” he noted. “So, the first thing you’ve got to do is solicit input from the people here in our community to find out exactly what the priorities should be.”
The video of that meeting, along with similar town hall meetings, can be found on the Texas Legislative Black Caucus’ Facebook page.
“We’ve got to make certain that we win elections,” he said at one point during the video when discussing larger economic and social disadvantages that African Americans generally deal with. “Elections matter. Until we’re able to have a seat at the table of power the things we are talking about will not get done. We can come together, and we should come together, to make sure our demands are heard, but if we don’t control committees, if we don’t control the votes on the floors (and) we can’t get them out of our respective houses, then we can’t get the governors attention,” he affirmed as he called for a holistic, systematic approach to legislative problem-solving.
“I mean, the fact is… these are historic times,” the lawmaker said of the protests in cities across the nation. “The question is whether we’re going to be a victim of history, or will we make history by getting the structural change we need,” adding, “And sending a person to Washington that’s sensitive to these issues; that’s walked in the shoes of many of the people that have been impacted by some of the problems that we face; I’m that person.”
The senator also encouraged residents to create the change they desired by putting to use the system that is already in place for them.
“And the people – get out and vote,” he emphasized. “The next one will be July 14, with early voting starting on June 29. Got to get the people out to vote.”