Former President George W. Bush is speaking out against the “brutal suffocation of George Floyd,” who was killed after a police officer pushed against his neck for nearly nine minutes. In the statement, Bush called on the country to “examine our tragic failures” as well as look for our “redeeming strengths.”
“It remains a shocking failure that many African Americans, especially young African American men, are harassed and threatened in their own country. It is a strength when protesters, protected by responsible law enforcement, march for a better future,” said Bush. “This tragedy — in a long series of similar tragedies — raises a long overdue question: How do we end systemic racism in our society? The only way to see ourselves in a true light is to listen to the voices of so many who are hurting and grieving. Those who set out to silence those voices do not understand the meaning of America — or how it becomes a better place”
“America’s greatest challenge has long been to unite people of very different backgrounds into a single nation of justice and opportunity. The doctrine and habits of racial superiority, which once nearly split our country, still threaten our Union,” said Bush, who asserted that the solutions could be found by living up “to the fundamental truth that all human beings are created equal.”
“We have often underestimated how radical that quest really is, and how our cherished principles challenge systems of intended or assumed injustice. The heroes of America — from Frederick Douglass, to Harriet Tubman, to Abraham Lincoln, to Martin Luther King, Jr. — are heroes of unity. Their calling has never been for the fainthearted. They often revealed the nation’s disturbing bigotry and exploitation — stains on our character sometimes difficult for the American majority to examine. We can only see the reality of America’s need by seeing it through the eyes of the threatened, oppressed, and disenfranchised,” continued the former president.
“That is exactly where we now stand. Many doubt the justice of our country, and with good reason. Black people see the repeated violation of their rights without an urgent and adequate response from American institutions. We know that lasting justice will only come by peaceful means,” said Bush.
“Looting is not liberation, and destruction is not progress. But we also know that lasting peace in our communities requires truly equal justice. The rule of law ultimately depends on the fairness and legitimacy of the legal system. And achieving justice for all is the duty of all,” he said.
During a speech on the senate floor on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) also made remarks on the death of George Floyd, as well as on the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.
“To me, to a great many of my fellow Kentuckians, and to millions of outraged Americans, these disturbing events do not look like three isolated incidents,” said McConnell. “They look more like the latest chapter in our national struggle to make equal justice and equal protection of the law in the facts of life in all Americans, rather than contingencies that sometimes depend on the color of one’s skin.”
McConnell also said that the nation cannot “deafen itself to the anger, the pain, or the frustration of black Americans,” and condemned the looting, rioting, arson and violent crimes that have erupted throughout the nation.
“On a nightly basis, initially peaceful demonstrators have been hijacked. American have watched protests dedicated to ending unjust violence mutate into riots that inflict unjust violence themselves,” he said. “We’ve seen small businesses destroyed and public property defaced. We’ve seen the men and women of law enforcement — the vast majority of whom are not bad actors — threatened and assaulted on our streets.”
“You do not advance peace by committing assault. You do not advance justice by inflicting injustice upon your neighbors. You do not promote the rule of law through anarchy,” said McConnell. “There’s no constitutional right to commit violent crime or to terrorize communities. Period.”
“If state and local leaders cannot, or will not secure the peace and protect citizens and their property, I hope the federal government is ready to stand in the breach,” he said.
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