Demonstrations continue across the country in response to police brutality against African Americans, specifically the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
Floyd was an unarmed African-American man who was killed in Minneapolis when police officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
Floyd was later pronounced dead. Chauvin has since been fired and charged with murder and manslaughter.
West New York, Mayor Gabriel Rodriguez’s thoughts, prayers, and respect go out not only to George Floyd and his family but to all those who tragically came before him.
“We stand before you here today in the name of solidarity,” Rodriguez said on June 2. “George Floyd’s death, which earlier today was declared a homicide, is beyond a tragedy. It is a gruesome reminder that we, as Americans, as human beings, can NO longer continue to overlook, minimize or deny that there IS a problem in America.”
Rodriguez said that, as mayor of a diverse community with an equally diverse police department, healthy relationships between the community and law enforcement have always been a top priority.
“As a man of color, I stand with those peaceful protesters,” Rodriguez said. “The desperate cry for change as it pertains to the treatment of African Americans and all people of color is something that affects us all. And that extends to absolutely the good police officers you see behind me here today from our WNY Police Department.”
Pleas for peaceful protest
Rodriguez supports the protesters and understands their anger but highlighted the need to avoid violence.
“I am angry too. But if we want change there cannot be anger without an organized agenda for real cultural and social reform,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez encourages residents to open their minds and make this new normal not only about public health and safety, but also social change and safety.
“Every American should feel safe when it comes to dealing with those who take an oath to protect and serve,” Rodriguez said. “Only through planned organizing and peaceful demonstration will an agenda truly gain the momentum it needs to make this vital social change in our country.”
“The violence will not end if we continue to manifest our anger our desire for this change through the very same violence that we condemn,” Rodriguez said. “Acts of violence, be it as a result of police brutality or the criminality exhibited by looters COMPLETELY and ABSOLUTELY dilutes the message of positive change and reform.”
According to Rodriguez, the violence drowns out the narrative against police brutality and buries it deep into the ground.
“Buried in the ground like the many who have lost their lives as a result of it,” Rodriguez said.
As West New York continues to work to bring the infection rate down, Rodriguez hopes to simultaneously raise the awareness for much-needed change.
“George Floyd deserves that, good police officers like these deserve that, the community deserves that, America deserves that. We have to do better,” Rodriguez said. “We ALL have to do better.”
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.