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STATEMENT: Rep. Heck on Murder of George Floyd

Jun 1, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Denny Heck (WA-10) released the following statement on the killing of George Floyd.

I’m heartbroken and outraged over the killing of George Floyd. All officers involved in his murder must be charged and held accountable. But the pain felt by so many Americans is deep and goes beyond what happened in Minneapolis.

Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. Trayvon Martin. Michael Brown. Freddie Grey. Eric Garner. Tamir Rice. Alton Sterling.

Time and time again, we’ve seen the lives of unarmed Black Americans cut short—and the individuals responsible walking away with impunity. This is unacceptable. Being Black should not be a death sentence in America.

On Saturday, I joined dozens of Black faith leaders, Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards and hundreds from across the South Sound to grieve for Floyd’s death and demand systemic change. While I was heartbroken, I was also inspired. I saw a sea of faces of all ages and races united in mourning the deaths of far too many Black Americans who should still be alive today. And we were also united by the shared belief that we cannot and will not accept this status quo.

I often reflect on Dr. King’s words that “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.” In my lifetime alone, we’ve seen people rise up again and again pushing for change in the face of injustice. The Civil Rights Movement. The Rodney King riots in the 1990s. The protests after Michael Brown’s murder in 2014. It’s easy to be dismayed at how slow this arc bends. I sometimes worry we’ll be trapped in this cycle forever.

But I know that the arc does not bend itself. We can all do our part to shape our history and build the community we wish to live in.

I am the first to acknowledge that, as a white man of privilege, I will always have more to learn from those who have experienced racial injustice firsthand. Sometimes I find myself at a loss for words, and unsure how we can heal the deep divides in our nation.

But as a public official, I know that I must play a role in moving our nation forward and working to end the systemic racism in our country -- even if these conversations are difficult or uncomfortable. I am reaching out to community leaders of color across the South Sound to learn and listen with humility on how I can be an ally in this time. I am also actively looking at federal legislation that is being brought forth by my colleagues in the House of Representatives that can help bridge racial inequities, and promote accountability and justice.

I pledge to you that every day I will continue to learn, listen, and demand justice, because the hard work of building a more equitable and tolerant society is never complete.

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