Wagner: Honor the Legacy of George Floyd with Peaceful Protests, Not Violent Actions
“I am sickened by the death of George Floyd. We stand as one in agreement that abuses of power such as these are completely unjust, whether at the hands of law enforcement, or our fellow citizens. George Floyd’s name will be a rallying cry for positive change as we address entrenched racial disparities in America.
“The right to assemble is one of the bedrock principles of American democracy, and I am a fervent advocate of our First Amendment right to take part in peaceful protests. I stand with the peaceful protesters who have expressed hope, anger, and courage in the face of tragic inequities. These assemblies can change history and I am grateful for those who safely marched in Clayton, O'Fallon, Ferguson, and other cities the past several days. We can and we will learn from their example.
"Though many protests here in Missouri and throughout the United States have been calm and effective, there have been many where criminals have commanded the agenda. There is no place for violence against our neighbors, business owners, and members of law enforcement. My prayers are with the four St. Louis officers who were shot last night, and for the family of the retired police officer senselessly murdered defending a local pawn shop.
“Just as we are coming together to ensure that justice is served in the unjust death of George Floyd, our nation must also come together to condemn violent riots and restore the rule of law. We have seen bad actors take advantage of these protests and use them as a means to foment terror and destroy homes, businesses, and neighborhoods. The unjust killing of our fellow citizens is how we reached this pivotal moment and no more innocent lives can be lost. Once the violence ends we can begin the process of healing and reform so George Floyd’s death was not in vain and we can address historic racial disparities that have held back the lives of so many.
“I am reminded of the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” I am grieved by the senseless violence and killings that are rocking our nation. Let's use our voices to work with our local leaders to ensure that Black Americans are never targeted, discriminated against, or killed because of the color of their skin.