As a white man, I am in no position to tell any person of color how you should handle your justifiable anger and outrage. The death of George Floyd is inexcusable. As the Assemblymember for the South End and Arbor Hill, I know how hard many of you have worked to build your community despite the systemic challenges. I am honored to work side by side with community leaders and residents every day to grow and support our neighborhoods. The changes might not come as quickly as we like but we do our best and above all share a common goal and purpose. No one wants to destroy the progress made. No one wants shattered storefronts. No one wants more lives broken because of anger and violence.
There is a lot of discussion about whether people outside the community committed last night’s acts of vandalism. This has happened in other cities. We don’t know whether these acts are part of an agenda to deepen the divisions that already exist among us, or whether people who are just frustrated by the lack of real change are channeling their anger through violence.
All I know is that the business owners and residents who I have spoken to and met with are justifiably frustrated and heart broken over the damage to the community institutions and businesses.
Early this morning, I drove through the City and met with business owners, employees and residents. I saw the shattered glass, the remnants of fire and the pain on the faces of those cleaning up. My heart broke for them. It is painful for communities of color who already suffer from outright racism, microaggressions, implicit biases and so many other issues to now have what they worked for torn down.
It is not my job to lay blame. But, we all should be focused on the shared goal of accountability. We all need to be held accountable. Pointing fingers is not going to help and neither is doing nothing. We need to do something. We need to be constructive and not destructive.
I know, as a white man, my words may not be what you want to read or hear. They may not bring you comfort. But, I was moved by Atlanta’s mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms’ words and passion for her children and her city. I share them with you so that we may be able to move forward together.