Remarks for Racial Equality in Response to George Floyd Death
As an organization, the Erie County Bar Association condemns the conduct of Minneapolis Police Officer Chauvin which resulted in the death of George Floyd. We equally condemn the conduct of his fellow officers who failed to intervene to protect George Floyd as he pleaded that he could not breathe.
The Declaration of Independence boldly declares as unalienable the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. George Floyd was denied those rights, in a scene that has replayed too often in our nation’s history. Our United States Constitution and Bill of Rights guarantee equal justice under law. Yet, as Americans, we have fallen short of this ideal for most our nation’s history when it comes to racial equality and justice. The United States has remained at the crossroads of justice and equality for far too long. We must live up to our promise and become the land where we are judged, as Dr. King advocated, by the strength of our character, and not by the color of our skin. We hold this truth to be self-evident – all men are created equal! Black lives matter!
Civil disobedience has often assisted Americans in their struggles – for workers’ rights, woman’s suffrage, and racial equality. Our rights to protest are guaranteed to us in the First Amendment’s freedoms of speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances. Our Association encourages peaceful protests to expose the hypocrisy between our values and our realities. We support those exercising their constitutional rights to protest the injustice resulting in the loss of another Black life. We must not be distracted by the rioters. Violence and looting have no place in advancing the cause of justice.
The Erie County Bar Association’s members each took an oath to defend the Constitution. While some members of our communities seek a return to normalcy, a return to any part of the past is not better. As a society, we must commit to advancing this cause of justice. As an Association, we support our friends and neighbors in the Black community. We accept our role as to ensure equal justice for all citizens of Erie County. We pledge our assistance in the search for justice and join others in working to create a “new normal” in which the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment no longer exists. These recent events must not define our future. Let us work together to heal the wounds and become the nation that we have long aspired to be. As President Abraham Lincoln implored, let our actions be touched by our better angels.