Our panel discusses the response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, then shares ideas for healing the divide in this country.
Gary Cain, president, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida
What can we do? LISTEN AND LEARN: Above all, now is a time to seek to empathize and understand before lashing out. Before you condemn the protests which sometimes turn to rioting, seek to understand the anger and sadness of black parents who fear for their children’s lives and worry that law enforcement won’t keep them safe.Before you paint all cops with the broad brush of racism, seek to understand the sadness of the thousands of good cops whose hard-earned reputations are damaged by the heinous acts of fellow officers. It is a time to speak out, yes, but more than this it’s a time to listen and learn.
Chris Carmody, shareholder, GrayRobinson
What can we do? END POVERTY: While the national conversation has focused around systemic racism and police brutality, one byproduct of this racism that has not received much attention is generational poverty. The sins of our forefathers and each generation after have left a very tangible divide in economic prosperity, with the African American community largely on the wrong side. Ending this economic divide can start right here. The Central Florida Urban League’s mission is to end generational poverty through education, employment and entrepreneurship. I’ll be contributing to this mission and I encourage you to consider also donating your time and treasure to this organization.
Rudolph C. Cleare, executive vice president, The Negro Spiritual Scholarship Foundation
Reaction to killing/protests: AVOIDING THE WRONG RESPONSE: The late Rev. Fred Maxwell died in 2005 at the age of 98. He pastored St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church here in Orlando for 37 years. Rev. Maxwell was fond of saying, “I have ‘et [eaten] enough of racism, and my stomach’s more than full.” In a similar vein, it seems equally futile to ask some “well-meaning” persons to care about what consequences may flow from a wrongheaded response to the African American community’s plea for real and systemic change. It is likewise tiring for people who look like me to explain over and over and over again what lies behind and beneath the current uproar. So I am trying hard to keep my mouth shut on this point at this point.
Lee Constantine, commissioner, Seminole County
Reaction to killing/protests: PROTEST PEACEFULLY: Pray for George Floyd and his family, who have shown great fortitude during this terrible tragedy. This is yet another punch in America’s gut, but we are better than this. Looting and violence is unacceptable but condemning peaceful protesting is un-American. Consider Sanford’s response: a demonstration that started with a prayer and continued with the community marching in silence with the mayor, city manager and police chief. Also, put your beliefs in action like Dallas Cowboys multiracial QB Dak Prescott, who while condemning Floyd’s death pledged $1 million to improve police training and end systemic racism. That’s putting your money where your mouth is.
Camille Evans, managing partner, Virtus LLP
Reaction to killing/protests: PERMANENT SOLUTIONS: I support protesting. But, I hunger for us to achieve the changes we all so desperately need. When the protests are over, what permanent solutions will we implement to make sure that we permanently dismantle racial injustice? The list of what is needed is long. But I am hoping the permanent solutions include improved community policing, greater protections for human rights violations, and changed economic actions and policies that reduce disparities in income and economic opportunities.
What can we do? LEARN, WORK AND STAY COMMITTED: The foremost thing we should all be doing right now is spending time learning, and not just superficially — learning about the issues, each other’s truths, and the laws, policies, systems and patterns that sustain racism and inequality. Then we need to get to work and stay committed to doing the work of bringing real sustainable changes in our relationships, police forces, governments, business communities and education systems. Voting is necessary, but it isn’t the only thing. We each must also stay diligent (after the protests leave headlines and social media feeds) and continue to push for true healing on every front.
Mark Freid, Immediate past president, Holocaust Center
What can we do? PART OF THE SOLUTION: I’m part of the problem, as well as the solution. We all are. Society treats me differently – better – because of the color of my skin, my accent, my ZIP code and many other things I didn’t earn or ask for. But I support not just diversity, but inclusion. I teach my children that lifting others up lifts us all up. And I support organizations that champion justice, equality and inclusion. I could and will do more – listen and learn more, make more decisions based on equity rather than economics and be more vocal about what I think and less concerned about what others may think about me.
Tim Giuliani, president and CEO, Orlando Economic Partnership
Reaction to killing/protests: OUTRAGE RUNS DEEP: The unrest we are witnessing goes deeper than one man’s tragic and unjustified death. It goes to the core of the frustration and anger felt by generations of black Americans. Outrage against racism, police brutality, and the lost opportunities caused by those obstacles is long overdue. Three years ago, the Orlando Economic Partnership refocused its mission to advance broad-based prosperity. That included rethinking economic and community development to create a region where all can pursue health, happiness and prosperity. Opposing racism is fundamental to that mission. We are committed, long-term, to being a part of our community’s solution. Our actions will speak louder than words.
Francisco Gonzalez, philanthropy director, National Review Institute
Reaction to killing/protests: VIRTUE SIGNALING: Corporate America and the media are using the death of George Floyd as an opportunity for virtue signaling. It is creating a division – this time by race – that has now led to riots and is destroying our country. These are the same entities that sold us on an economic shutdown for the COVID-19 pandemic. Most Americans were not thinking about race issues before George Floyd was killed. They were concerned about COVID-19. But the new media narrative is a race war and too many Americans are buying another false bill of goods. And, it’s an election year. What a coincidence.
What can we do? IGNORE RACIAL DIVIDES: Our country has overcome so much racism and has left most of it in the past. Academics show us over and over again through history that race is a social construct. And yet… those same academics and their allies in the media, entertainment, and corporate industrial complex continue to construct race and give life to racial divisions. We need to refuse to buy their narrative. It’s time to stop the virtue signaling. The best way to heal the divide is to not create it in the first place. It is time for unity around three colors: red, white, and blue.
Jeff Hayward, president and CEO, Heart of Florida United Way
Reaction to killing/protests: LEAN TOWARD JUSTICE: The unjustifiable killing of George Floyd casts a long shadow over our society. The anger from pervasive racism weighs heavy on our hearts. These feelings have manifested into different reactions, some peaceful, some violent. While we do not condone unlawful acts, the demands for justice must be heard and remedied. Floyd cannot be just another name on a long list, nor an excuse for looting thereby overshadowing the real issue: systemic racism. It’s okay to feel angry, sad, confused, even hopeless. But what our nation absolutely cannot afford is to let these feelings lead to complacency as the news cycle changes. In realizing true justice and equality, we cannot afford anything less.
Jane Healy, former editorial page editor and managing editor, Orlando Sentinel
Reaction to killing/protests: POLICE USE-OF-FORCE REFORM: The best response to the tragedy came from Barack Obama. He said police department policies that are weak on use of force need to be reformed. He’s absolutely right. It’s frustrating to hear people say that the killing happened due to lack of police training. Training isn’t the issue. It lets bad cops off the hook when that’s said. The officer responsible for George Floyd’s death had plenty of training — he’s in a big-city police force. The real issue is when departments like Minneapolis allow neck pressure as a way to subdue a suspect. That’s a big reason why we are where we at today.
Phil Hissom, founder/director of the Polis Institute, an Orlando-based think tank focused on revitalizing neighborhoods
Reaction to killing/protests: RACIAL TURNING POINT: History will mark George Floyd’s killing as the major turning point in race relations in the U.S. It won’t be because the act was so callous or because it was filmed or because the protests were so widespread and fierce. And it won’t be because any one leader or group says just the right thing. The change will happen because the pervasive and cowardly undercurrent which has kept racial injustice and atrocities afloat has surfaced. It will soon begin to run off and slowly lose its power — the privilege that whites have so long enjoyed of opting out.
What can we do? BE HUMBLE AND LEARN: Fifteen years ago a friend gave me “White Privilege and Community Building” after I shared how disappointed I was that an African American leader connected current economic conditions in black neighborhoods to slavery. He didn’t lecture or shame me. He just said, “You might want to read this.” At first it made me angry. Then it changed my perspective. And now I can say it changed my life because it humbled me to be more open to learning. Whites will never fully understand the black experience in America but we can definitely learn and that’s a solid step towards healing.
Eric Jackson, president/CEO, Total Roof Services Corp.; board member, CareerSource Central Florida
Reaction to killing/protests: CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE REQUIRED: I want to live in a world where protesting the senseless and unjust murder, harassment and incarceration of black people is no longer required. I want to live in a world where I don’t have the daily fear of being the next one or one of my brothers, nephews or friends being the next George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner or Trayvon Martin. Since I do currently live in this world, protest is a required first step. Remember the Boston Massacre of 1770 were colonist protested and pelted the British with snowballs and the Boston Tea Party of 1773? Protest and civil disobedience are about as American as it gets!
What can we do? DIVERSIFY YOUR LIFE: I’ve received messages of support from many non-black friends, colleagues, even an elderly white stranger in a parking lot told me he loved me! Until you have meaningful diversity in your everyday life it is impossible to feel and understand what others have to endure. It is impossible to fully empathize with anyone until you build relationships and trust with different people so that you can truly listen to and hear what they are telling you about their personal journey. To those that know me I am a friend, father, husband, businessman, community guy; etc. To many who don’t know me I’m just another false stereotype over there! Diversify your lives and minds!
David Kay, rabbi, Congregation Ohev Shalom
Reaction to killing/protests: POWDER KEG: I was 12 when my hometown of Chicago erupted in protests during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Chicago’s legendary mayor, Richard J. Daley, answered questions about police response to the demonstrations with his most famous verbal slip: “The policeman is not there to create disorder — the policeman is there to preserve disorder.” We had good friends and neighbors who were police and they made it clear: A crowd of frustrated, angry, and frightened people is a powder keg. The right response can defuse it. Incendiary language and actions set it off — or create an excuse for others to do so.
What can we do? OWN YOUR BIASES: None of us are without bias. While we decry the prejudice of others, we should also be certain to admit our own, to take ownership of attitudes we harbor that divide us and dig them out by their roots. But we can’t do it on our own. We’re too close to our lifelong perspectives, too familiar with the view through our particular lens. We need the courage and humility to seek out people different from us — whether by race, ethnicity, faith, language, culture, politics, or whatever — and who will compassionately but honestly tell us what they see.
Chris King, CEO of Elevation Financial; 2018 Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor
What can we do? WATCH THE VIDEO: Watching the murder of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers will forever be seared into my mind. The policeman’s knee on his throat remains immovable as Floyd and bystanders call out for mercy, fellow officers block attempts to help, and we see the life drain slowly from his face. Watching that video makes you feel powerless. Just viewing it is excruciating, but view it you must. As a white man, I will never fully understand the pain levied on Mr. Floyd and black Americans every day but finding a way forward begins with acknowledging – and confronting – that pain.
Ken LaRoe, founder and CEO of First GREEN Bancorp
Reaction to killing/protest: FEDERAL OVERREACTION: The federal response to the horrific police brutality that led to the death of George Floyd has been as horrific as the crime itself. How did our country get to this point where we have a president who foments hate and violence? In contrast much of the local response has been heartwarming with law enforcement across the country supporting the protesters.
What can we do? CHANGE STARTS AT THE TOP: I’m not sure there can be an answer that can be responsive to this question. When a police officer can feel so emboldened that he would blatantly kill a man in broad daylight, in front of witnesses while being filmed, I’m not sure there can be any healing until there is change in the executive office.
David Leavitt, former Seminole County Libertarian Party chairman, CEO of Refresh Computers
Reaction to killing/response:: CURFEW OVERREACTION: Curfews are for kids, silly Orlando. Curfews against adult citizens are demeaning and unnecessary. Curfews often result in mayhem – the very thing cities are trying to eliminate. Curfews can turn peaceful protesters into angry and sometimes violent rioters. Like the COVID-19 overreaction, the response Orlando is exhibiting against peaceful protesters is misguided and mostly out of the political fear that they are not doing something about it. When a curfew is initiated and then ignored, a city feels like they have no choice but to bring out the barbaric use of tear gas, when all along, it was the curfew causing the problem.
What can we do? START WITH LOCAL LEADERS: What can an individual do to help heal the divide in your community? Helping friends, family, and neighbors is great, but if you want to make an impact consider getting to know your local government. Review city council meeting agendas and attend their meetings to speak for or against things that align or do not align with your values. Set up meetings with locally elected officials. You will be surprised how eager most will be to talk with you. Meet with your city manager and police chief, as well. Remember – they work for you and not the other way around.
T.J. Legacy-Cole, political organizer/community activist
Reaction to killing/response: FIGHTING INSTITUTIONALIZED RACISM: One’s articulation of the black experience in America in lieu of a well-publicized lynching could never encapsulate the trauma of an entire race. White supremacy is the asphyxia which suffocated George Floyd. The recent uprising in America is the condemnation of institutionalized racism permeated through the fabric of our judicial system, law-enforcement agencies and political infrastructure. The alarm of freedom has awakened the people to the fallacies of the American Dream. The defiant leadership in Minnesota allowed cities across the country to burn rather than give the impression of equality to black Americans. Civil disobedience is a result of saying my black life matters and the audacity of the world to disagree.
WHAT CAN WE DO? THE MEDIA’S ROLE: Amidst the nationwide peaceful protest sparked by the vicious murder of George Floyd by four now ex-cops in Minnesota, lest we not forget the crucial role media plays in the modern-day civil-rights movement. It is imperative media outlets refrain from perpetuating false narratives about peaceful protesters. Journalistic integrity and ethics are called into question when realities of the victims of local police violence are clouded in tear-gas smoke in favor of political propaganda. Significant policy reform begins with an authentic depiction of the unheard voices’ cry for change, not inconsequential symbolic gestures. Our media must continue to stand in solidarity with the truth.
Jeremy Levitt, distinguished professor of international law, Florida A&M University College of Law
Reaction to killing/response: PROTESTS MUST QUELL RACISM: My reaction to the national protests over the killing of George Floyd and thousands of other African Americans is glorious, glorious and glorious! The combustible combination of white privilege, denial and silence when black people are killed in America has unleashed a leviathan intent on crushing systemic racial discrimination and white vigilantism that is destroying “our” nation. America needs to wake up, peel back its mask of apathy and anti-black bias and take its multi-generational knee off the necks of black Americans. We have a deeper tradition of interracial hate and oppression than we do reconciliation and love. This is a watershed moment screaming for watershed change.
What can we do? LAWFUL SELF-DEFENSE: The time for one-sided civility is waning. African-Americans need to protest and embrace the 2nd Amendment. Black guns matter! The famed activist Ida B. Wells Barnett said that “a Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home, and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give.” Every African-American should own a pistol, take gun-safety courses and obtain a concealed-weapons license. Lawful self-defense is our only recourse when the state is unable or unwilling to protect black life and liberty. We must work with allies of every color to create positive change.
A.J. Marsden, assistant professor, Beacon College
Reaction to killing/response: SYSTEMIC RACISM: Black lives matter. And systemic racism exists. Former Minneapolis Police officer Derek M. Chauvin exemplifies that systemic racism. His history as a police officer bleeds with 12 police brutality complaints, involvement in a car chase that left three dead, the shooting of Leroy Martinez and Ira Latrell Toles, and the shooting death of Wayne Reyes. All of this before he killed George Floyd on May 25. Why was Chauvin still a police officer? Because his fellow police officers and his superiors excused his racist behavior and allowed it to persist. This is systemic racism and we must act against it.
What can we do? MAKE VOICES HEARD: Right now, it is critical that every person in our communities feels like they have a voice, and more importantly, is being heard. We must amplify the voices of the marginalized and listen without judgment to their experience. Let’s attend town-hall meetings (via video conference since COVID-19 remains a very real threat), write to our local representatives, patronize our local businesses, and donate to local charities. To help heal our communities, we must be actively involved in them. We must listen to one another, learn about others’ experiences, and lift up each other. Love thy neighbor.
Anna McPherson, past president, Junior League of Greater Orlando
Reaction to killing/response: VOLUNTEER: Volunteering is the answer. Quarantine has taught us all that we are even more interconnected and dependent upon each other than we previously realized. So now, we need to freely offer ourselves in service to others and the community in order to help heal our divides. Through volunteering, we expose ourselves to new people, new perspectives and new opportunities. We see firsthand inequities, work out solutions and become advocates. Whether your volunteer effort is boots on the ground or virtual, through a faith community, a civics group, school or just showing up, have your heart and mind open to listen and learn. Through volunteerism we can heal our communities together.
Khalid Muneer, broker/owner Jupiter Properties Central Florida
Reaction to killing/response: LEADERS MUST STEP UP: Last week completed probably the most turbulent three months I have witnessed in my life — pandemic, recession and race riots. This is the time for the leaders at every level to step up and show the qualities of a good leader: decisiveness, clarity in message, communication skills, good management, more empathy and emotional intelligence and less ego. “The mark of visionary leadership is the ability to look through the fog of uncertainty and imagine the path to a better future not considered possible before,” as FDR said.
What can we do? HELP THOSE IN NEED: Orange County has set a great example in the past, especially after the Pulse shooting, in coming together and showing empathy and support to the victims — and the groups to which they belong. Here our community and spirtual leaders are the key. For the long term we need serious and accountable strategy to help the people who are in need of affordable housing, reasonable paychecks and social benefits. Even before the crisis, 50% of the families in Orange County were making less than $35,000 a year, considered to be poverty level wages for a family of four.
Pamela Nabors, president/CEO, CareerSource Central Florida
Reaction to killing/response: SOME THINGS HAVEN’T CHANGED: This past week has felt like stepping into a DeLorean and traveling back to 1968. It is truly heartbreaking that some things haven’t changed — from the horrifying murder of George Floyd to the other examples of bigotry and bias — black men berated in an office gym, a bird watcher in Central Park threatened, and the unjust killing of a jogger in Georgia. Fast-forward to 2020, where a cellphone can, thankfully, capture these incidents and instantly expose the wrongdoing. Law-enforcement officers wear body cameras now, but recently it’s been the citizens recording these events who have ensured that justice is served.
What can we do? PEACEFUL PROTESTS: This past week has truly been a blur — I have been home-bound due to eye surgery, but from my couch, and with my one good eye, I have watched with admiration at how Central Floridians have come together to peacefully protest the injustice of George Floyd’s death. Through Facebook Live, I have been able to hear the impassioned speeches that call for this racially biased oppression to stop. I can’t begin to truly understand, but I can listen, learn, read, discuss and stand alongside those who are hurting to promote the change we need.
Cole NeSmith, executive director, Creative City Project
Reaction to killing/response: COMMUNICATION: Good leadership requires an abundance of clear communication. As has been the case with the Trump administration over the last four years, the president continues to exemplify his inability to be clear or to communicate. While Trump dedicated dozens of tweets to lambasting Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protests, he’s barely mentioned George Floyd. Leading people through difficult times begins with empathy, and it’s clear that the president isn’t able or willing to listen. While President Obama addressed the nation on Tuesday with clarity, care, and guidance, Trump continues to stir dissent and violence. It’s a sad state of affairs.
Kathleen Oropeza, co-founder, FundEducationNow.org
Reaction to killing/response: HISTORIC CRUELTY: America is built on 401 years of immoral cruelty imposed by whites on people of color from chattel slavery to a bigoted racist aftermath that still exists today. The cold-eyed public murder of George Floyd at the hands of a white man has forced us deep into sorrow, laying bare the grief of failing to value and love each other. Federal leaders should offer hope and advocate for a monumental shift in policing and race relations. Instead we got a hollow reaction from politicians who long ago lost the ability to be heartbroken over the loss of George Floyd or anyone else. Instead of being disappointed by these leaders, we must choose to heal these inequities ourselves.
Paul Partyka, president, Central Florida Commercial Association of Realtors
Reaction to killing/response: SADNESS AND ANGER: The president’s heated words has not helped. Mayors Demings and Dyer with the governor showed restraint with protesters and dialogue with the African American community. They are Americans, frustrated in how the police handled George Floyd’s death. For Ahmaud Aubery, nothing was done until a video showed up two months later. We should be angry about these two unjust killings. There is an underlying subtle racism that is prevalent in our nation; this issue has to be faced and fixed. In America, non-violent protests are to be supported. We must understand each other for a better America.
What can we do? REACH OUT: Invite your African American neighbor into your home to talk openly about these issues. The local houses of worship can have discussion groups that include parishioners or members of all colors to talk about what happened and what can be done for better understanding.
Beverly Paulk, founding member, Central Florida Foundation and The Orlando Philharmonic
What can we do? ALL HAVE VALUE: Believe that every person has value and deserves to feel a sense of belonging. Understand that racism for centuries has been hardwired into all of our systems such as criminal justice, politics, education, health, safety, finance and housing. Use your voice and actions for positive change, starting with contacting elected officials. Show up and be counted. Donate to and volunteer with organizations effectively working to reform parts of the system. The hard work must start now. Remember who is watching. Children of all ages absorb your attitudes and biases or understand being kind. Listen, educate yourself and others, act.
Joseph F. Pennisi, founding executive director, Florida Policy Institute
What can we do? LISTEN, READ, REFLECT: While my initial inclination was to come up with a list of things, I suspect shooting from the hip would be a bad idea. Instead, here are three things I will do in the coming days and weeks: listen, read and reflect. I will listen to friends and acquaintances on the other side of the racial divide from this old white guy; I will read the literature like “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo; and I will reflect on a topic I know, in my heart, too little about. Only then can I begin to answer this question meaningfully.
Jim Philips, retired longtime radio talk-show host
What can we do? SUPPORT GOOD JOURNALISM: We need to question the local electronic news media’s incessant focus on crime. Violent crime is much lower than 30 years ago but you wouldn’t know it by watching the 6 o’clock news. Why so much focus on crime? Every reporter will tell you it’s the easiest thing “to cover” along with fires and traffic accidents. Citizens need to be better consumers when it comes to news coverage. When you watch the evening local news, ask yourself whether the story being covered has any relationship to you or your family’s life other than satisfying some prurient interest. More often than not the answer will be no. Good journalism…print or broadcast…is needed to make democracy work.
Larry Pino, attorney and entrepreneur
Reaction to killing/response: AMERICA MUST FIND ITS WAY: Dawn in America. It may not be morning in America. But it’s probably not mourning either. George Floyd could be described as the face that launched a thousand ships. 158 years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862 and 55 years after Martin Luther King’s march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, the country — reeling after three years of rhetorical vitriol from our capital – has put a face on racism and it’s not pretty. This moment can be best seen as the dawning of America, where we allow ourselves to come face to face with what made the American promise exceptional and what we will need to do to recapture it.
Stephanie Porta, executive director, Organize Florida
Last week: KEEP FIGHTING: Say his name. George Floyd. Black Lives Matter and thousands of citizens from all races, ages and backgrounds are marching in the streets in anger and grief. One more black man was murdered by a white police officer. As the president employed disgraceful tactics to stop us from raising our voices, we refuse to remain silent to America’s systemic, brutal racism. This is a revolution. We are mobilizing power day by day. We will keep fighting as long as it takes to right 400 years of slavery and injustice. This is our time. Say ALL of their names.
What can we do? LIFT OUR VOICES: Our communities are brave and resilient, but they are tired of white supremacy and police brutality. They are reeling from a negative, divisive president who disregards their lives. Our democracy is at stake. We need criminal justice reform, an end to the prison state, and a demilitarized police force. We must lift up the voices of marginalized communities, of people of color, of immigrants and of the indigenous. We must be engaged in our communities and our government. Most importantly, we need to VOTE!
Joanie Schirm, GEC founding president; World Cup Orlando 1994 Committee chairman
Reaction to killing/response: TRUMP THE DIVIDER: President Trump’s behavior is a monumental failure as he has reacted as he always does as a divider, not a uniter. Central Florida unity, with diverse leadership and law enforcement, shined supporting peaceful protests while addressing illegal actions by small groups intent on causing damage and theft. Their actions are counter to memorializing George Floyd’s horrific murder and a call for long-overdue social change. In times of crisis, those with a willing Orlando heart find a connectedness that shines a light on our existing schisms and works toward the common good. Rally and vote for the leaders who support decency and serious change where needed. Black lives matter.
What can we do? POLICE REFORM: We white folks say, some more authentic than others, the humane goal is that all human beings are born equal in dignity and rights. For centuries, black people worldwide have witnessed human rights, and human moral conduct often doesn’t align on their behalf. As honorable individuals, we must end injustices with urgent, meaningful actions. Ultimately, the responsibility for creating and implementing policing policies on the use of force must be local officials and heads of law enforcement agencies. What unfair protections exist here and through the legislature, and what should change now? Most law enforcement officers understand the fundamental issues of right and dangerous wrong. Immediately, terminate those who don’t.
Beverly Seay, chair, UCF Board of Trustees
What can we do? ACTIVELY ANTI-RACIST: We can listen to our community members affected by this long history of racial injustices and ask how we can help. We can educate ourselves about the continuous struggles of inequality and discrimination. We can change our own behavior and analyze the positions of elected officials and candidates and exercise our right to vote to move toward a more just and equitable community. We can support movements led by people fighting racism, inequality and discrimination and all the ways that they show up in our society. We must all be actively anti-racist.
Rick Singh, property appraiser, Orange County
Reaction to killing/response: COME TOGETHER: As our country grapples with two crises at once, Americans are left yearning for strong leadership to show us the right path. There is no easy answer to the intricate problems our communities are facing — these challenges are rooted in complex history and rapidly shifting social dynamics. As an elected official, I know the power bestowed to me in the best of times, and the responsibilities I bear in the worst. Elected representatives, police officers, community members, and faith leaders must come together to guide our people to a non-violent – but justifying – end to this sad chapter in our nation’s history.
What can we do? SHARE PERSPECTIVES: Support and healing can come in many forms. Organizing, educating, donating, and counseling are all impactful ways we can help our community mend during these trying times. The process will not be swift – true healing is not an itemized list of one-time, actionable options. Instead, we must all commit to understanding more every day. No matter our individual circumstances, each of us is capable of research, of listening to learn, of initiating rational talks with loved ones who have a different worldview than our own. Now’s the time to discuss hard topics with others. Engaging to make a point shouldn’t be the goal…instead, let’s do our best to appreciate their experiences and share our own.
Michael Slaymaker, professional fundraising executive
Reaction to killing/response: A NOD TO THEATER: George Floyd’s death and the protests made me think of these lines/messages from Les Miserables: “One day more…This never-ending road to Calvary. …One more day with him not caring. … One more day before the storm. Do I follow where she goes? … At the barricades of freedom, shall I join my brothers there? When our ranks begin to form, do I stay or do I dare? … The time is now. The day is here. One more day to revolution. … Tomorrow we’ll discover what our god in heaven has in store! One more dawn. One more day. One day more!”
What can we do? PRAY AND VOTE: James 2:17: “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” The black voter turnout rate declined for the first time in 20 years in a presidential election, falling to 59.6% in 2016 after reaching a record-high 66.6% in 2012. The voting rate for Latinos in 2016 was 47.6% and 48% in 2012. If you want faith and prayer to become real then encourage every person you know regardless of the pigment of their skin to register to vote.
Carol Wick, CEO, Sharity
Reaction to killing/response: COMMUNITY POLICING: We must protect peoples’ right to peacefully protest, demand accountability, and change from a system that has long devalued and dehumanized communities of color. The best policing is community policing. Trust cannot be restored with tear gas and riot gear; it must be earned. What gives me hope are images of officers joining with protesters to take a stand against police brutality. George Floyd’s life matters. It’s time for our leaders to show the people they serve that black lives matter as well.
Michael Zais, political blogger for thedrunkenrepublican.com
Reaction to killing/response: OTHER STATES HAVE FAILED: Although Florida has done well, the response by many other states to the protests spawned by the tragic killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis has been flaccid, abysmal, and outright embarrassing. Never in my life would I have thought that in this country, a police station would be commandeered by violent anarchists. And across the nation, thousands of businesses looted and torched, and innocent people beaten. The federal response has been spot on, with the president promising to restore the order that many mayors and governors pathetically let slip away, and the Justice Department going hard after the anarchist mobs instigating the chaos like Antifa.
What can we do? MORE THAT UNITES US: Uniting our communities is as simple as all of us, individually, preaching endlessly that there is way more that unites us than divides us. It may sound cliche to some, but it’s unequivocally true. And it goes beyond the most fundamentally unifying attribute of all — that we’re all Americans. We were all sickened by the killing of George Floyd. We were all cheering when the Minneapolis cop was charged with murder. We all supported peaceful protest, and conversely, condemned the sickening chaos perpetrated by the violent anarchist mobs. And when we inevitably disagree, we must enthusiastically embrace diversity of thought.
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