Rep. Richmond Statement on the Passing of George Floyd and the Current State of Racism in America

May 30, 2020
Press Release

New Orleans, LA Congressman Cedric Richmond (LA-02) issued the following statement following this past week’s events across the country displaying race related profiling, prejudice, and death: 

“In the midst of a global pandemic with a disproportionate amount of Black families putting their loved ones to rest, it infuriates me to see the African-American community wake up in fear each day,” said Rep. Richmond. “As a Black man raising a young Black boy, I refuse to sit quietly while institutional racism continues to deprive parents of seeing their sons and daughters reach their fullest potential. George Floyd should be with us here today. His murder was unwarranted and unacceptable and only underscored that the scourge of police brutality is alive and well. Let us make no mistake that this type of abuse of power by those in authority should be considered an act of terrorism and addressed accordingly. The inability to root out systemic use of fear, intimidation, and aggression will only guarantee more outcomes like the ones we continue to see today.

“Less than a week ago, the murder of Mr. Floyd was filmed and distributed for the entire world to see. After he was thrust out of the driver’s seat of his car, Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin was seen shoving his knee into Mr. Floyd’s neck for a total of eight minutes and 46 seconds—all while he pleaded for his mother and most notably saying, ‘I can’t breathe.’ I wish I could say that these tragic moments are isolated, but unfortunately, they are not. Throughout our history they have occurred frequently, but now cellphone footage has just illuminated our nation’s darkest flaws and original sin. A couple of days ago, we witnessed Amanda Cooper call 911 and falsely claim she was being physically threatened by Christian Cooper, a Black male birdwatcher in New York City’s Central Park. Had he not filmed her while she made these dubious claims, Christian could have ended up just like George Floyd.

“Enough is enough! The protests we see today are reflective of warranted anger, frustration, and a real desire for systemic change in America. Protesting is what laid the foundation for our country’s existence and it will continue to serve as the mechanism to improve its shortcomings. For far too long, African-Americans have had to endure institutional racism, economic instability, and a criminal
justice system stacked against them. The murder of Mr. Floyd and the loss of 100,000 lives at the hands of COVID-19 is a stark reminder of the cumulative grief and anxiety the African-American community feels right now.

“While the murder of Mr. Floyd was an absolute tragedy, it presents an opportunity for change we desperately need. In order to move forward, leaders at every level must listen to the voices of the people and commit to accountability and transformative reforms of our law enforcement practices. With young Black males three times more likely to be murdered by police than their white counterparts, the status quo is unsustainable and will only increase distrust between police and the communities they are tasked to protect. So, as this president attempts to sow division instead of healing our wounds, let us forge ahead together with a renewed sense of purpose and action to ensure that we are honoring the legacy of all of those who should be with us today.