Statement of Karen Hobert Flynn, President of Common Cause
The murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police officers is a horrific tragedy that demands justice. It is a tragedy that plays out far too often in our nation and must end.
White Americans have yet to fully understand the fear, horror, and anxiety our neighbors of color feel every day while living in our country. Black Americans continue to die at the hands of law enforcement officers and vigilantes far too often and the tragic pattern must be stopped in its tracks.
Americans deserve and need leadership and inspiration from their president in times of crisis. Unfortunately, President Trump’s leadership approach added to an already volatile situation. Instead of calling for calm, he called for the shooting of looters and used the situation as a political opportunity to attack the Mayor of Minneapolis
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many fault lines and disparities in our country – who is getting sick; who is the target of police violence; who is getting access to government services – and how far we are from achieving an equitable democracy for everyone. The fact that Minnesota police arrested a Black Latino reporter and his crew while not arresting a white reporter from the same news network that was also on the ground speaks to the systemic inequalities Black and Brown people in our nation continue to face.
The arrests are also a potential violation of the First Amendment and press freedoms. The First Amendment grants the press with the freedom to report on news and information without interference from government officials. The press hold our government accountable and help facilitate participation in our democracy. This is particularly important during times of emergency and crisis when communities rely on journalists for on-the-ground coverage of news and information. We must protect the press from attacks that would undermine their ability to carry out their duties.
George Floyd and his family deserve justice. George Floyd, like Dreasjon Reed, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and other Black people killed by police and vigilantes this year, should be alive and breathing. As an organization that works to realize the promise of democracy, we must acknowledge racism that has been an integral part of this nation’s past and present. We must fight systemic racism wherever we find it, whether it be in our streets, at the ballot box, or in our justice system. Common Cause and Common Cause Minnesota joins Minnesotans grieving George Floyd’s death and call for a thorough investigation to ensure justice is served.