Letter to the Editor: Community-building Means Honoring All People

The death of George Floyd was documented in its entirety. The lies told by the policemen involved were immediately exposed by corroborating video. And we are left to wonder whether criminal charges would have been brought had people not taken to the streets.

You may disagree. As a Unitarian Universalist (UU), I’m guided by the principle that we must honor the worth and dignity of every human being. I honor the worth and dignity of George Floyd as I honor the worth and dignity of Derek Chauvin. I believe that Mr. Floyd deserved a respectful interrogation, thorough investigation and swift and fair trial. Instead he was killed in the street. I believe that Mr. Chauvin now deserves fair process.

The larger issue is the sense of powerlessness people feel in the face of militarized police departments, truncated due process and overwhelming power wielded by criminal-justice systems. People are marching; people are confronting power; people are risking wealth and liberty to make a significant change in the way we treat black people in this country. And people around the world are rising in support.

The folks organizing these protests do all they can to keep things peaceful. Much of the violence comes from people outside the community who have political or criminal motivations. Regardless, it’s evident that the people who are committed to change in their communities are not the ones destroying them.

Our goal as citizens should be to build communities in which all people are honored and given the opportunity to thrive at what they do best. We must take the stand that “All lives will matter when black lives matter.” There must be an awakening within the white community: Racism is not a black problem; it is a white problem. Calling the police on a “suspicious” black man does not build community. We must first assume the black person on the street is intelligent, confident, joyful and compassionate – one who will help build our community and propel future generations into prosperity and peace.

Rev. Mark S. Richards

Egg Harbor, Wisconsin