The senseless death of George Floyd was fundamentally wrong. Watching the video, it seems clear that the fired Minneapolis police officer who killed him should be convicted of homicide. When that is done, it will provide justice for Mr. Floyd’s family and friends.
On a larger scale, brutality and racism must be addressed in our society today. Until they are, we will not truly have peace in our society.
With that in mind, it is reasonable for people to want to protest. We see the video of the former officer with his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck, and we yearn for justice. There must be justice when people have been wrongly killed or injured or even arrested on false charges.
At the same time, peaceful protests must not give way to mayhem. We have seen far too many images of violence and destruction on the streets of cities all across America. Broken glass, burning buildings and people looting stores; these are not the images of peaceful protest.
As Mr. Floyd’s brother, Terrence, said, ”if I’m not over here blowing up stuff, if I’m not over here messing up my community — then what are y’all doing? Nothing, because that’s not going to bring my brother back at all.” His words are a powerful reminder of the pain caused by the riots.
During these moments, we see the dreams of small business owners go up in flames and needed places of employment shut down because of the damage inflicted during the unlawful actions.
So many people are experiencing frustration and fear because of the riots in their communities. The destruction has closed the store where they buy their groceries or the pharmacy where they get their medicine.
We seek justice toward those officers who violate their oath, ignore their training and the law. They take an oath to protect and serve. When someone turns away from that, it hurts all in law enforcement.
We also pray for peace for those officers who do follow the law. We pray for those officers who respect other people — regardless of race, or sex, or any other category. And we pray for those officers with a dangerous and stressful job that has become even more dangerous and stressful.
Going forward, we need both justice and peace.
We also need consistency. How is it that people who went freely out into open space a week ago were deemed a threat to the health and well being of their communities, but thousands of people storming the streets a week later were not?
How is it that officials in Madison, Wisconsin, can threaten fines for churches that host more than 50 people in their sanctuaries on Sunday yet choose not to arrest people the night before when they started a police car on fire?
Why were so many in the media and on the left mortified by President Trump walking over to St. John’s Church north of the White House but not equally as outraged by the thugs the night before who started the church on fire?
By the way, there was no tear gas used on the people in Lafayette Park on Monday. The U.S. Park Police verified that on the following day. They provided facts not reported by many in the “mainstream media” about what really happened that day.
According to their statement, violent protesters in the area “began throwing projectiles including bricks, frozen water bottles and caustic liquids.” Officers also found “glass bottles, baseball bats and metal poles hidden along the street.”
The police gave three warnings on a loudspeaker to clear the area. “As many of the protesters became more combative, continued to throw projectiles, and attempted to grab officers’ weapons, officers then employed the use of smoke canisters and pepper balls. No tear gas was used by the USPP officers or other assisting law enforcement partners to close the area at Lafayette Park. As Paul Harvey would say, there’s the rest of the story.
Clearly, there must be improvements in our country, our states, and our communities. Years ago, we worked with families that lost loved ones and other members of law enforcement on a new law that creates an independent review of officer-involved shootings. I was honored to sign the legislation into law as it provides justice for those who do not follow the law and protection for those who do.
We will need to look for more reasonable reforms to the system in the coming days. There should be a renewed focus on improving screening, training, and assessing law enforcement professionals. In particular, there must be specific work done on the proper methods of use of force to ensure that officers are using proper techniques.
All of these issues boil down to respect. Or as the Bible says, love one another.
• Scott Walker was the 45th governor of Wisconsin. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him @ScottWalker.
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