Justice prevailed today, and I applaud the prosecutors and jurors who made it possible. George Floyd’s murderer has been held accountable; but our work is not done.
History will look back on 2020 as a searing but critical inflection point in our nation’s painful journey toward racial justice and equity. In the weeks and months that followed George Floyd’s public murder, overwhelmingly peaceful mass demonstrations erupted across this country. People of all backgrounds cried out for justice and for change, and there is no question that they succeeded in awakening a nation. This modern civil rights movement calls on us to be not only witnesses, but participants.
Many of us were taught that sanctioned racism in America died in the 1960s following the signing of the Civil Rights Act. But the test is this: in education, in housing, in medical care, in employment, and without doubt in the justice system, the average white person would still not trade places with the average Black person in our country. In truth, our yawning racial disparities were enforced — often violently — well into our lifetimes not only by racist extremists, but by government agencies, the justice system, major employers, labor groups, the real estate industry, school boards, and homeowners’ associations. Systemic racism was no accident; nor can be its cure.
Last spring, I announced 15 police reform priorities, including the reform of Delaware’s use of force statute, the statewide use of body cameras, mandatory participation in a do-not-hire list, and more robust civil rights protections, among others. I realize that some of these proposals are contentious and that none are easy; but I’m grateful to say that several of these policies have been supported — and in some cases outright championed — by legislators, the Governor, and Delaware’s police chiefs. I appreciate the value of deliberation and discussion; but I also agree with advocates who have reminded us that reform is no less urgent today than it was ten months ago.
I’m heartened by what this General Assembly, including its newest members, has proven it is willing and able to do. There is no reason that police reform should not be among this year’s many accomplishments.
My heart is with George Floyd’s loved ones and a long-suffering community. Today we should not only honor his memory, but recommit ourselves to his legacy.