By Mike Espy
All across the country — from police chiefs, to faith leaders, to everyday citizens — Americans are condemning the officer who killed George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, as he lay on the ground restrained in handcuffs. Worse still is that other officers stood nearby and watched as Mr. Floyd begged for breath for eight long minutes before he died.
Law enforcement is a difficult job and the police should be supported when they are doing the right thing in the right way, but this was an abomination, an egregious act that calls for the immediate arrest of all of the Minneapolis officers who were involved.
The Mayor of Petal, Mississippi, Hal Marx, said he “didn’t see anything unreasonable” in the detention of Mr. Floyd. Mayor Marx should be ashamed.
In response to a hurting nation, the president preached further hate, violence and division, using clearly racially-charged language. Now is the time we look to our elected leaders for healing and unity — not fanning the flames of hate.
For the last few nights, I watched in sadness as protests turned violent. Burning our businesses won’t solve the systemic racism and injustice that led to Mr. Floyd’s death. The words of Rev. Al Sharpton ring true: “We have to direct that [anger] in the right way.”
Just like the Minnesota Attorney General said: “Peaceful protests [are a] part of the American tradition. It is your prerogative to get out there, to have your sign, to make your chance, to pass your leaflets out. That is what we do to make change in America… the overwhelming number of people protested in an effective way, a way that… even MLK would be proud of.”
I am disappointed. I am disappointed my grandchildren are growing up in a country still struggling to change. But it doesn’t have to be this way. They don’t have to live in a country infected with systemic racism. While we march in the streets making our voices heard, we must also march to the ballot box. That’s where the real change happens.
With less than 200 days before the November 3 election, our work starts now. Register to vote, or check if you’re already registered to vote, by heading to IWillVote.com. Then tell your friends and family to do the same.
A better Mississippi and a better America is in our future — if we fight for it.