The murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police laid bare some of the deep-seated racism and injustices within our society. Any conversation about what’s going on in cities across the country today must begin with an acknowledgement of the righteous anger Americans are feeling. And we all must do our part to address injustice in our laws and our culture.
As we wrote in this article, published on May 31, these injustices strike at the heart of Stand Together’s core values and those of our country — first among them a commitment to equal rights.
The article did not address the protests, violence, and police response because they had not yet taken place when we wrote it. But given recent developments and in response to questions from friends and partner organizations, I’d like to share Stand Together’s perspective on what is now transpiring, in clear and unequivocal terms.
- The right to protest and to the free expression of ideas that challenge the status quo is fundamental. Peaceful protests play a critical role in achieving progress. They are an important expression of outrage and a catalyst to make positive change.
Organizations within the Stand Together community have a long track record of defending the right of peaceful protests.
- Violence against people or property is not an acceptable part of protest. Even given the extraordinary and justifiable outrage over the injustice, we cannot remedy an unjust act of violence with another, but only by uniting people to make positive change.
Violence against people and property violates the commitment to equal rights and disregards the inherent dignity of every person. We have an obligation to speak out against that violence, in all cases.
Regarding the police response
- The police have an obligation to protect people and their property and we should hold them responsible for the fulfillment of that duty.
- The people entrusted to enforce the law must also be held accountable for obeying the law.
Unfortunately, the response to the protests by certain government officials and police that has been documented in several cities (for example, Atlanta, Louisville, or Washington, DC) is abhorrent and does not live up that commitment.
It points to the need for fundamental reforms to change the culture of policing, which we have supported and will continue to support. This is change that can and should happen now.
- This statement should not be misunderstood as being anti-police.
Quite the contrary. Positive examples of policing that protect people and property, with the minimum force necessary, while maintaining a respect for communities have also been documented (for example in Flint, Wichita, and Houston) and can serve as a model for others.
Stand Together is committed to doing all we can to make a positive difference during these tense and troubled times. Please reach out with questions, ideas, and opportunities to partner at Hello@StandTogether.org.
Photo caption: Terrence Floyd (above, white shirt), George Floyd’s brother, visits the location — now a memorial — where his brother was killed in Minneapolis.
Photo credit: Lorie Shaull