Senate Leader Atkins Issues Statement on Death of George Floyd and Protests Across the Country
SACRAMENTO – California Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) issued the following statements reacting to George Floyd’s death and protests across the country:
“It’s hard to believe it has only been one week since George Floyd was brutally and senselessly killed. Another Black American to fall victim to the systemic racism that permeates our society and poisons our system of justice.
“In the days that followed George Floyd’s killing, so much has taken place. We have seen the righteous anger that this has happened yet again. We have seen despair from people who keep peacefully protesting and who keep having to ‘say their names’ year after year after year: George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. Sandra Bland. Stephon Clark. Trayvon Martin. The pain goes deeper as the list grows longer.
“This week, we have seen violence and looting spurred by those who are out to commit crimes of opportunity, out to divide our communities for political gain, or out to cause damage for damage’s sake. In inspiring images from across the country, we have also seen volunteers picking up brooms and buckets to help their neighbors, people comforting one another, and police officers taking a knee and even marching with protestors.
“To those protesting: I hear you and I am with you. If you are seeking to incite damage and violence, we are on to you and you will not succeed in tearing us apart. If you are a resident or business whose property has been damaged, there are people to help. If you are a law enforcement officer, now is your time to be a role model, and build the relationships that can help you be more effective in preventing crime.
“So many of us are trying to figure out what comes next, what can be different this time? How do we navigate the turmoil we’re in right now to achieve different outcomes and lasting change? I don’t have all the answers. No one does. But I do know a lot of good people who have some important answers, and I’m going to be listening to them and amplifying their voices as much as possible as we move forward. As an elected official, it’s my job to help turn the best of these solutions into meaningful laws. But those changes in laws only work if there are matching changes in our society and in ourselves.
“I hope those of us in California who worked with Assemblymember Shirley Weber on her landmark use-of-force legislation, AB 392, can harness the power of the coalition behind that bill to bring about additional changes and reforms. What we do here in California can provide a roadmap for the rest of the nation.
“There are hundreds of state and local law enforcement agencies operating in California. Every elected official needs to work with and be on top of the ones in our communities, helping ensure they move in the right direction – de-escalation, de-militarization, more outreach and community policing. This has to be a constant effort, not one that can ebb and flow with each news cycle about the latest killing.
“This week has been a traumatic time in our communities and our nation. But there are steps small and large each of us can take to build from that trauma and turn things around. No single action will be enough, of course. Systemic racism has been allowed to take root in our country for 400 years. That won’t vanish overnight. Or in a week. But it can, if enough of us come together to listen, and learn, and lead. Too many Black Americans are dead. Too many names have already been said. We have no choice but to change.”
Toni G. Atkins is President pro Tempore of the California Senate. Having previously served as Speaker of the California Assembly, she began her tenure in the Senate in 2016. As Senator for District 39, she represents the cities of San Diego, Coronado, Del Mar and Solana Beach. Website of President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins: www.senate.ca.gov/Atkins