In Response to the Murder of George Floyd and Nationwide Protests
NEW HOPE, PA, May 31, 2020 - The country has been gripped by protests in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed, non-resistant African-American who suffered an excruciating 8-minute death inflicted by police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25th. While I do not condone violence, I stand with those protesting the fact that we, in America today, have two systems. We must strive to do better.
Denying the existence, and the inherent systemic injustice of these two systems does a disservice to understanding, confronting, and overcoming our history as Americans so that we build a better system for future generations.
In recent weeks, state capitals were over-run with gun-wielding, and in some instances, swastika baring protesters specifically defying government health and safety orders that were in place to keep communities safe. Police did not fire rubber bullets or tear gas even as armed men and women took over government facilities. These protesters were, by and large, white.
Now, in stark contrast, we must consider what is happening in Minneapolis. On the evening of May 26th, peaceful unarmed protesters called for the arrest of officer Derek Chauvin. Instead of respecting the 1st amendment rights of these community members to peacefully assemble and make their voices heard, rubber bullets and tear gas were rained upon them by Minneapolis police.
On May 27th, Derek Chauvin still had not been arrested, even after video of George Floyd's death went viral online. In a desperate cry for justice, protests in Minneapolis turned violent and Minnesota called in the National Guard. On May 28th, there was still no justice. On May 29th, as Derek Chauvin was finally charged, 1st amendment rights were breached again when Minneapolis police arrested Afro-Latino CNN reporter Omar Jimenez live on air as he covered the protests, even as he clearly displayed his Press Pass. On May 30th, the protests that had begun sweeping the nation because of what occurred in Minneapolis, reached Philadelphia.
On May 31st, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, the Republican incumbent in Bucks and Montgomery's 1st Congressional District, made his priority labeling anti-fascist group ANTIFA as terrorists.
There are two paths we can take from here: we can further militarize our law enforcement and create a full-fledged police state by labeling any group that refuses to remain silent a terrorist or we can hear the protesters concerns by deciding to create a more just system that ensures every American has the fundamental rights to physical and economic security and freedom.
I believe our pathway forward as Americans is in creating this more just system.
Ask yourself: Isn't it terrifying 1st amendment rights to peaceful assembly and a free media were attacked on-the-spot yet the officer responsible for murdering George Floyd walked free for 4 days after his crimes?
Isn't it terrifying that, depending on the color of your skin, bouncing a $20 payment at the grocery store can be the difference between the cash register laughing things off or your neck being crushed beneath a police officer's knee for 8 minutes?
We have two systems in this country. There is no telling people to "go home" unless we listen to what they have tried to say peacefully, and are now so desperate for us to pay attention to that they have no choice but to turn violent.
These are desperate cries for a more just system. The desperation caused by a system that applies Constitutional rights differently depending on skin color. The desperation caused by a failed criminal justice system that incarcerates 5 African Americans for every 1 white. The desperation caused by a broken government that continues to increase budgets for incarceration while slashing funding for education.
If you are ready to walk this new path toward peaceful and prosperous communities so that it includes all Americans, then this campaign stands in solidarity with you.
Skylar D. Hurwitz
Independent Democratic Candidate for U.S. Congress in Pennsylvania's 1st District