George Floyd’s death at-the-hands of a Minneapolis police officer is one of many tragic deaths suffered by communities of color across the country on a regular basis. These acts are the results of systemic racism in our society and the failure to expose it and weed it out from institutions, organizations and places where authority has power to intimidate.
Mr. Floyd’s brutal killing, captured on video, is a grotesque reminder that America’s race-relation issues are strained and the fight for equality and civil rights continues.
The individual captured on video slowly draining life from Mr. Floyd wore a uniform, but he did not represent its values – his actions were his own.
As the Chair of the California State Assembly’s Public Safety Committee, I work with law enforcement agencies and know it takes one bad individual to reflect on the majority of sworn officers working to up hold the law and protect communities.
What is concerning to me is the alarming trend of individuals misusing their positions in life and authority to weaponize the police or I.C.E. against blacks, Latinos, and other people of color to compel us to be obedient or fearful. This includes individuals who take the law into their own hands, as was the case with Ahmand Arbery.
Whether it’s a white woman in Central Park threatening a black man with police action because he asked her to follow park rules and leash her dog, or Eric Garner, a black man, selling single cigarettes on a street corner in New York killed by an illegal use of force, blacks and Latinos in America are living in constant fear.
As a nation we cannot live in a two-tiered society – we must all share the same rights to pursue life, liberty, and happiness without fear of authority because of the color of our skin or the origins of our families.
People of color have been targeted, racially profiled, stopped and frisked and brutally restrained in greater numbers and frequency and this must end now.
It only took one individual with authority to force his knee into the neck of Mr. Floyd to cause his death as he and bystanders pleaded for his life. It would have taken only one other individual with authority to step-in and save Mr. Floyd’s life that day.
Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer
Chair, Public Safety Committee
District 59 Representative
Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer and his family have a legacy of civil rights involvement beginning with his uncle Jefferson Thomas (1942–2010) of the famed Little Rock Nine. Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer in a fierce advocate of social justice and civil rights issues working on prison reform, supporting second chance life enhancement programs for the formerly incarcerated and serving as a member on the Assembly’s Select Committee Community and Law Enforcement Relations and Responsibilities.