On behalf of the NAACP Louisiana State Conference, president Ernest L. Johnson sent the following letter to the Department of Justice.
Dear Attorney General Lynch:
As President of the Louisiana NAACP and a Member of the NAACP National Board of Directors, I hereby submit the following recommendations for action to address the Black community/police relations:
1. Creation of the Southern University Law Center Clinical Education Reentry Program funded by a grant from the United States Department of Justice. This program will allow law students under the direction of a license attorney to provide legal services to the Baton Rouge community through a Re-entry Program.
2. Creation of Police Department Interactive Training Program vs Residency Requirements. Primary police officers who are designated to patrol certain neighborhoods will receive interactive training by attending churches, schools, community centers and meeting with local community citizens during a three-month training period each year.
3. The Tale of Four Cities. In 1947, white citizens created the Baton Rouge Plan of Government. Under this Plan of Government, there are now four cities located within the Parish of East Baton Rouge: The city of Baton Rouge, the city of Baker, the city of Zachary and the city of Central.
All of the cities except Baton Rouge elect their own mayors and city council members.
The city of Baton Rouge (60% African American) does not elect its own mayor and city council members. The Baton Rouge Mayor/President is elected by all of the voters in the parish including those residing within the cities of Baker, Zachary and Central City.
Individuals are elected from throughout the parish including the three other cities serve on what is called a “Metropolitan Council”. Members serving on the Metropolitan Council are allowed to vote on City of Baton Rouge matters including taxation are able to do so through inter-governmental agreements signed each year.
This Plan of Government is diluting the voting strength of those African American residing with the City limits of Baton Rouge. We believe that Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th of the United States Constitution are being violated. We need reform of the City of Baton-Parish of East Baton Rouge Government. To give the citizens residing within the city limits of Baton Rouge a real voice in the operation of the government. We are requesting an investigation and action by the Voting Rights Section of the Department Justice to help change this government which was created during the period of segregation in our state.
Thanks very much for your consideration and acceptance of these recommendations.
Ernest L. Johnson, Esq.
President Louisiana NAACP
Member NAACP National Board of Director