Like many of you, my heart aches for the family of George Floyd. Any senseless act of violence is tragic, but especially so when perpetrated by those sworn to protect and defend us. As a prosecutor, I strongly believe that anyone who murders someone or is complicit in murder should be charged and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
The systemic racism that African Americans experience – whether it’s in the criminal justice system, in the economy, or in the health care system – is wrong. Even today, African Americans are suffering death at a greatly disproportionate rate from COVID-19 due to longstanding inequities in our society. These issues should have been in our rearview mirror a long time ago.
The overwhelming majority of protesters are protesting because they want things to get better – and they’re prepared to work to make it so. I also know that these protestors are acting from a deep pain from the devaluation of their lives and a sincere commitment to right these wrongs. Others are exploiting these moments for their own agenda, forcing many already struggling small businesses to bear the cost. That is unacceptable and wrongdoers should be held accountable, but it will not distract from the work we have to do to heal our nation.
We have to do better. We have to make this country a safe place for every person, no matter who you are. As North Carolina’s top law enforcement official, I am prepared to labor alongside you to achieve that. My office continues our work to identify ways we can help improve policing in our state. I commit to you now: we will do everything in our power to be a part of the solution.
North Carolina has a tragic legacy of slavery, segregation, and racist violence. But we also have another inspiring legacy: the 1960 sit-in in Greensboro, a state NAACP that filed more integration lawsuits than any other, and the creation of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, among many, many others. Our state can be a leader in fighting and overcoming racism.
But first – and this message is mainly for white people – we have to do the work. I hope you will join me in taking advantage of some resources for educating ourselves. Please consider looking into resources from Duke University’s Racial Equity Learning Arc, We Are (Working to Extend Anti-Racist Education), or some other anti-racism curriculum. And taking the Unconscious Bias quiz might help you.
To Black constituents, friends, and coworkers: your life matters. I will fight for you.
Be well and be safe,