To the HSFA team and my fellow Americans,
It is with deep sorrow that I write today to acknowledge the grief and hurt many of us are grappling with. The anguish from the unnecessary deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others who died tragically and violently as a result of contact with police officers or vigilantes is far more than we should be willing to tolerate. Our hearts and prayers are with all the victims and their families, and we are so sorry for your losses.
Last Monday’s senseless killing of George Floyd while in police custody has hit home for so many Americans. We see this clearly as demonstrations continue around the country. While we at HSFA unequivocally support the rights of Americans to protest, it is imperative they demonstrate peacefully as they exercise their First Amendment rights. HSFA does not condone the violent, unlawful actions of the few agitators who threaten public order and safety at otherwise peaceful protests. We are not just citizens—we are American citizens — and we have to walk a higher path, rooted in a highly ethical moral code.
It is equally important that our partners in law enforcement protect law-abiding citizens’ rights and provide a safe environment for them to protest, free from outside instigators and provocateurs. We offer our strongest support to those police officers and chiefs who have publicly spoken out against the actions of those involved in and those who support the actions that led to George Floyd’s death. Law enforcement officers who serve and protect our public safety have to walk an even higher path than the average citizen. You are not simply police officers—you are American police officers. I implore you to work harder to maintain hometown security while honoring and preserving individual American civil liberties.
I am a son, a brother, and a dad—so was George Floyd. His repeated yet ignored pleas of “I can’t breathe” and the pleas of several anguished bystanders fell on deaf ears. This failure to acknowledge Floyd’s suffering is representative of the failures of America to acknowledge the suffering and pleas of minorities for centuries—pleas for basic respect, dignity, and equality under the eyes of the law.
The time is now for constructive police reform that includes:
- Police departments nationwide evaluating their “use-of-force” policies to ensure they are fair and equitable and guided by the Fourth Amendment from the top down;
- Police officers enforcing the law without prejudice and following the law themselves;
- Training police officers with tactics designed to police our domestic population and preserve American civil liberties versus training that involves foreign military tactics; and
- Community police officers living in and taking pride in the communities they work in.
I believe wholeheartedly that constructive police reform should be supported by citizen reform in ways that include:
- ALL Americans practicing having more empathy for others’ circumstances and suffering;
- Americans helping more through charitable giving and acts of kindness; and
- Citizens partnering with police in the community and taking pride in their responsibility to be aware and help maintain hometown security.
As we continue to be separated by a global pandemic, now is the time that we need to cling to our humanity. We cannot fall for divisive, self-serving politics. We must bring our hearts and minds together to address inequality and build a brighter future for our children. If we work together, we will not fail.
It is my sincerest hope that we all find less hate in our hearts today and recognize the extraordinary benefits of healing our nation’s wounds and uniting as a people to establish a more just and inclusive American society for all. My final plea is that as the COVID-19 global pandemic continues, you remain safe. Take care of yourselves, your families, and our country.
President, Homeland Security Foundation of America