“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” (Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence, 1776)
In horror, the world watched an indifferent American policeman coldly ignore the pain and pleas of a man and murder him. Devoid of any empathy for another human being and using a “choke hold”, banned by most police departments, the arresting officer obviously thought it was not enough to handcuff a compliant man. It was not enough to throw him to the ground, to painfully yank and push his arms behind his back. We all watched as he used his knee and body weight to pump and push against Mr. Floyd’s neck, inflicting pain and causing great stress to his lungs and heart. This was a sick, sadistic action by a man who displayed indifference while causing great pain and stress on Mr. Floyd. Not one of his police colleagues stopped this horror, making them accessories to his murder.
America is again shamed as the world watched. Again, another African American citizen was killed as he cried out for help -- “I cannot breathe”. What justified this action? He was not a man resisting arrest, nor a man who was in the act of committing a violent crime that posed a danger to anyone. He was suspected of using a $20.00 counterfeit bill! The justification appears to be that black and brown people have no rights to life or liberty - that a black man is not entitled to be innocent until proven guilty.
In this great country, black, brown, Indigenous American Indians and immigrants are too often labeled unworthy and treated with disdain. None of us should fear for our lives especially from our leaders or our legal system. This is a stain on our national honor and must be corrected. Yes, we pray for the family of George Floyd and all who suffer mistreatment, but that is not enough. Institutional racism must be punished with a legal system that treats all men and women equally and with dignity. The New Orleans Coalition calls for all citizens to demand justice so that together we can all live without fear and realize our God given potential and gift of life. We ask our leaders to bring us together and to make our justice systems address these violations of law, liberty, and humanity.