In secret recording, Gov. Edwards vows to declare Ronald Greene case as ‘racist’
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Before holding a news conference about the Ronald Greene case Tuesday, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards held a private meeting with members of the Legislative Black Caucus.
The Associated Press (AP) obtained a recording of that meeting and reports, during it, the governor promised the group he would publicly say that what happened to Greene was racist.
“Let me address this now and make this commitment to you,” the Associated Press reports the governor told the caucus. “I will say that this was a racial incident, a criminal incident. I will say that.”
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And, minutes later, the governor held a news conference in which he did just that.
“I can’t imagine if Mr. Greene had been white he would have been treated that way,” Edwards said in the news conference. “We have to acknowledge racism when we see it. We have to call it what it is.”
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Greene died in 2019 following a pursuit by Louisiana State Police (LSP) that ended with him crashing his vehicle near Monroe. Body cam footage shows white troopers Tazing and beating Greene and later dragging him by his ankles. The agency is accused of trying to coverup exactly how Greene died and making his family initially believe the crash caused his death.
Edwards received a text message from LSP a few hours after the incident telling him a motorist died following a pursuit. Edwards said the notification was routine, something he gets anytime there is a serious law enforcement incident in the state.
The governor said he did not realize there was much more to the story until he was shown the police footage more than a year later.
Some caucus members asked why Edwards did not speak out or follow up more forcefully when first informed of the circumstances, The Associated Press reported.
“A man died in custody. You don’t ask his name? You don’t ask what happened? You don’t get any facts?” one of the caucus members said, according to audio of the meeting obtained by the AP.
“This matter will not go away until there is an acknowledgment that there was a cover-up,” said another.
Edwards at one point said, “I am not going to tell you everything that has happened with the state police since I’ve been governor has been perfect.”
“They’re alleging that I have been personally involved in these things and I have not,” Edwards told the caucus.
“Are they ever going to come out and have a charge?” the governor asked during his meeting with the lawmakers, adding he believed the troopers’ treatment of Greene had been criminal “from the very first time I saw” footage of it in October 2020.
Ronald Green’s family and community supporters said they will hold a virtual press conference on Thursday, Feb. 3 at 4:15 p.m. to address the statement Gov. John Bel Edwards gave Tuesday regarding the murder, conspiracy to cover up the murder, civil rights violations, and human rights violations of Ronald Greene by the Louisiana State Police.
The Associated Press contributed heavily to this report.
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