I am heartbroken and furious. George Floyd — as well as Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so, so, so many others — should be alive today. We have lost them not simply because some bad people did terrible things. We have lost them because our nation was built on a racist foundation, and that racism continues to shape every aspect of America.
These lives weren’t stolen by a few racist bad apples; the whole tree has a rot going back 400 years. That racist rot is the reason George Floyd and so many other unarmed Black people are so often killed by police. It’s why a white woman knows calling 9–1–1 on a Black man is a chilling threat. It’s why white people with assault rifles walk unmolested into the seat of government, but Black peaceful protesters are tear-gassed. It’s why Black people are dying from COVID-19 at twice the rate of white people; and Black kids don’t get the same education; and Black wealth is a tiny fraction of white wealth; and on, and on, and on.
I believe in the beautiful, powerful ideals this country claims to be built on, but until we address that rot of racism, they’re cruel ironies rather than lofty promises for many Americans. I implore our law enforcement to be forces for peace at this fragile time, and to do everything possible to avoid stoking violence.
I also implore all Oregonians and Americans to be agents for change, because we must confront the racist rot in our country. It is both our duty and our responsibility to face this reality and work to end it — and the path to change is through peaceful protest, civil disobedience, political mobilization. I stand with each of you — every Oregonian and every American — who has joined the fight to end the systemic racism that is rooted in the very DNA of our country. I stand with each of you in the fight for racial justice and an end to police brutality. I stand with each of you to call for justice for the Black Americans who have been killed, and to affirm loud and clear that Black Lives Matter.
We cannot give up. We cannot step down. Together, let’s use our anger and anguish to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and fight for justice.