Democratic State Legislative Leaders Respond to Protests Across the Country

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WASHINGTON — Over the last week, Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee board members have been speaking out in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, vowing to enact meaningful reforms, and working in their communities alongside protestors. Democratic leaders are showing up for their constituents, uplifting Black voices, and compensating for the abject failure of leadership shown by Republicans in Washington and across the country.

DLCC Chair, New York Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, “Another night of heartbreak in the wake of the horrendous killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Protests have been unfolding across the country and here in New York. Let’s be clear – the reason for the protests themselves is warranted and too familiar. Two members of the Legislature, who stood in solidarity with the protesters in a peaceful manner and who were trying to help to calm the situation, were pepper sprayed and one was put in handcuffs. Our hope is the heartfelt demonstrations do not lead to more violence, injuries or worse. From what we have witnessed, there must be better coordinated efforts to help de-escalate tensions and allow our citizens to protest injustices.” 

DLCC Vice Chair, Nevada Speaker of the Assembly Jason Frierson, “George Floyd was killed by a despicable and loathsome Minneapolis police officer. He and the other officers who watched, and didn’t come to Mr. Floyd’s aid, should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Of that, we have no doubt.

“Here in Nevada, while racial, social, and cultural divides still exist, we have made significant strides in confronting these schisms. In the past 20 years, community, law enforcement, and government leaders have been working together in efforts to address the issues that divide us and the tragic consequences of bigotry.

“In just the past few years, Nevadans have elected the first African American Supreme Court Justice, Speaker of the Assembly, Attorney General, Congressman and the first Latina to the United States Senate. Despite those proud accomplishments there is so much more we must do to ensure social justice, equal opportunity, better education, and the overall eradication of all forms of racism in our communities and our State.

“To the protesters… we hear you and we are listening, and more importantly, we invite you to be part of a constructive solution, and the healing our community desperately needs. We respect and defend your right to protest, but please express yourselves peacefully.

“And, be assured we will not rest until everyone in our community feels safe and respected.”

DLCC Board Member, Michigan Senate Democratic Leader Jim Ananich, “We know what happens when minority voices are willfully ignored – people get killed, injustices go without consequences, and communities are poisoned. Leaders across America: we have to do better.”

DLCC Board Member, North Carolina Senate Democratic Leader Dan Blue, “Peaceful protests have not brought peace. Anger is real, and it is justified. If you take the streets in protest of police violence and the destruction of your community, then you cannot participate in acts of violence and destruction. I believe in good government, and its ability to lift people up. But the system has still failed us so many times. 

“When you raise your voice to be heard, or when you raise your fist in protest, I ask you to remember this: if you want to change a system that has failed you, the most powerful tool that you can wield is your vote. Not just this November. Not just during presidential elections. Every election. 

“Momentum is building, and it is the responsibility of each of us to act upon it for the good of our brothers and sisters. It’s time to do the real work to make sure that the people in power act on reform. I ask the activists in the streets of Raleigh, Charlotte, Fayetteville, Greensboro and across the country to educate themselves on the specific problems that need to be addressed and hold their elected officials accountable: at public hearings, at city council meetings, and at the polls. 

“If we want change, then we need every crowd seen in the streets of every North Carolina city to march to the polls to achieve real and meaningful change for our communities.”

DLCC Board Member, Washington Representative Joe Fitzgibbon, “The events of the last few days, and police brutality itself, are symptoms of centuries of white supremacy and institutional racism baked into the fabric of our society. And none of it will get better until white people reckon with our role and take the necessary steps to end it.”

DLCC President Jessica Post, “At the DLCC we’re committed to using our platform to uplift marginalized voices and make sure that elected officials reflect the communities they serve. Democratic legislators have made tremendous strides in addressing criminal justice reform in their states, but there is much more work to be done. Through November and beyond, we’ll continue to work to elect legislators who will pass meaningful, overdue reforms, elevate legislative leaders of color, and to change and confront racist policies and systemic racism in America.”

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