Texas state representative leads charge at Dallas 'Say Their Names' protest

Texas State Representative Lorraine Birabil (D-Dallas) led the charge at Freedman’s Memorial Cemetery Wednesday afternoon in Dallas where African Americans from as far back as the Civil War are buried in unmarked graves.

Participants held signs with the names of those killed from excessive police force for the Say Their Name protest 

“We are all here to make sure we get the structural changes that we need,” Birabil said.

The newly elected state rep took over Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson’s old seat, calling for Gov. Greg Abbott to hold a special session to address concerns of the black community and criminal justice reform. She plans to file the ‘See Something, Say Something Bill.’

“Law enforcement asks the general public, ‘if you see something, you should call us and say something.’” We are simply asking law enforcement to do the same,” Birabil said. “If they see a colleague who is engaged in police brutality or misconduct, they should say something.”

Birabil says some police departments may have similar rules, but she wants to make it mandatory statewide with consequences ranging from a misdemeanor to a felony for failing to report.

For her, the issue is also personal after a 2013 incident involving her father who she says was assaulted by police after she called for help.

“After that, I decided to go to law school because I wanted to be a part of the solution,” she said.

Showing his support Wednesday was former Dallas Cowboy Greg Ellis.

“I’m glad to see the reaction of the country,” Ellis said. “And not just black people, but all people are coming together to recognize there’s injustice going on and something needs to be done about it.”