June 2, 2020
Statement Regarding the Murder of George Floyd
I begin by noting I am aware that words alone cannot rectify the problems our country is experiencing. Furthermore, I acknowledge I cannot truly understand the pain and anger the African-American community feels. However, as a public official, I think it is important for the citizenry to know where I stand.
As a human being, I am personally affected by the events of the past week and I add my voice to the myriad that stands against police brutality and for the right of peaceful protest. Regardless of one’s socioeconomic status or the color of one’s skin, all life is precious and all human beings must be treated with dignity and compassion.
As a public official, I have a responsibility to acknowledge the racism that exists in the criminal justice system and to work with law enforcement leaders, local elected officials, and citizens to establish progressive policies and institutions and try to build bridges of trust with the community. All citizens want the same thing: a safe and caring community in which they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.
While I normally refrain from commenting on cases that occur in outside jurisdictions for fear that I do not have all of the relevant information, the Minnesota video is all the evidence needed for a reasonable mind to be convinced that the officer is guilty of murder. I have never seen an officer exhibit such utter contempt and disregard for a citizen. To put it plainly, to keep a knee on a handcuffed man’s neck for 9 minutes while he pleads for his life is overwhelming evidence of malice and would be supportive of a murder charge under Virginia law. I also believe that the other officers present at the scene, who did nothing to intervene, should be criminally charged as accomplices. I strongly deplore these officers’ actions, wholeheartedly support the prosecution of the charged officer, and expect and await charges against the accomplice officers.
Furthermore, I support the people’s right to peacefully assemble and protest. While I cannot endorse or condone destruction or violence, the citizenry’s First Amendment right to peacefully protest the government should not be infringed. The federal government must cease its attempt to militarize its response as this simply inflames passions, exacerbates the likelihood of more people being hurt, and causes further division.
Throughout our history, our county has found a way to move forward from the significant challenges it has faced. We are a country of human beings, each of us imperfect, and our progress therefore is slow and insufficient to adequately address the problems presented. As a country, we must harness the current anger and outrage and use it in the battle toward the elusive concept known as justice.
Bryan L. Porter