Everyone in Colorado is talking about the death of George Floyd. What a terrible miscarriage of rights, justice and fairness.
I have not seen our ideologues agree on a subject in a long time. From liberals on the furthest left, to conservatives on the furthest right — it is agreed that the killing of Floyd was one of the worst displays of lawlessness our nation has ever seen.
The biggest shocker is the proliferation of agreement among racial groups. In the midst of widespread national protest, including some violence, somehow “black” and “white” agree that the time for change is now.
We might not fit like a puzzle, but Coloradans are standing in their truth without compromising their core values. We share this heartbreak.
The black community is not monolithic. As well as varying political perspectives, we have different perspectives on how to respond to the murder that traumatized us all.
Black community pillars are expressing their grief without holding back.
The Black and Latino Coalition – Director Willie Breazell: “On the face of the video clip, I am beyond angry and frustrated. How many times must our young men die on the streets of America without due process... It’s time for America’s leaders at highest level to speak and act against these hideous attacks.”
Colorado House of Representatives — Rep. Leanne Wheeler, quoted author Toni Morrison: “What struck me most about those who rioted was how long they waited. The restraint they showed. Not the spontaneity, the restraint. They waited and waited for justice. And it didn’t come. No one talks about that...”
Southern Christian Leadership Conference — Executive Director — Henry Allen: “I say to the citizens of Minneapolis the same thing I say to us here in the Pikes Peak region: Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. But I add to my community, aren’t you yet sick and tired of being sick and tired?”
The response to the angst of black leaders in the Pikes Peak region is not perfect, but anyone observing can see the increase in effort.
The Mayor’s office of Colorado Springs — Mayor John Suthers: “I have been very impressed by the protesters and the leadership of the protests. What’s happened over the last five days in Colorado Springs in my opinion is in highest traditions of social action in America. People passionate about a very worthy cause, very vocal about it, but not letting outside influences that have a different message and don’t share their methods of nonviolent protests infiltrate and turn things a different direction.”
There have been amazingly frank leader remarks about brutality in policing.
City Council Colorado Springs — Richard Skorman: “This is a tragic, horrible crime that should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law so it never happens again… we recognize the challenges of police violence across the country, including our own.”
Colorado House of Representatives — Rep. Lois Landgraf: “The malicious disregard for life by a policeman being followed by the extreme violence we are seeing in Minnesota and around the country is heinous. …. Swift prosecution of those who commit such crimes is the answer.”
Former NAACP Board of Directors — The Rev. Roger Butts: “It is time for white people, of every political persuasion to stand up and say no more. Brown lives matter. Black lives matter. And we are going to do all we can to stop the killing of black lives.”
This is the most effort toward race and policing reform that I have seen from the political structure of the Pikes Peak region in many decades of living here.
I would like to end with the words of Stan Vanderwerf — El Paso County commissioner:
“I ask for those filled with anger to keep your protests peaceful. …I ask law enforcement agencies around the nation to check and double-check their procedures and training to ensure fair treatment is always applied. I ask communities and their local law enforcement agencies meet frequently to build trust.”
I hope that as painful as the dialogue might be sometimes, that we can apply that advice and move forward.
Rachel Stovall is a longtime community advocate and organizer. Also a fundraising, media and marketing consultant, Stovall is most known for singing with her dance band Phat Daddy and the Phat Horn Doctors.