Legislator Statements on Racism

6/26/2020

Many leaders have made comments in recent weeks following the death of George Floyd while in police custody and subsequent protests held nationwide. NCSL has collected a sampling of statements from state legislators, edited for length. If you would like your statement included, please contact us.

"What was top of mind for the state legislators, in terms of violence was, number one how do we prevent these kinds of police incidents from recurring in the future and number two how does our society coexist." Speaker Scott Saiki (D-Hawaii), NCSL President-Elect

"Racism takes the form of subtle acts of bias, individual acts of hatred in the form of violence or vandalism, & systemic racism that, since the founding of our country & state, have stacked the very rules and expectations of our society against Black, Indigenous & People of Color.”
Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D-Vt.), NCSL Immediate Past President

“What happened to George Floyd is reprehensible. The image has been permanently seared into my mind. He was a human created in the image of God. My heart aches for his family. He was murdered. If you’re American, you should be upset. The officer needs to be held accountable. Americans also have every right to protest. It’s appropriate here. But reckless disregard for people’s safety & the law is also wrong. These riots are no way to remember George Floyd. We can’t lose sight of the original injustice & the change that is needed.”
Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Mich.)

“As the only member of color on leadership in the General Assembly, I understand and empathize with the pain and horror so many are feeling. I stand with those peacefully protesting for change. The system is still broken, but I believe that we can fight back through protests as well as through policy. We must be aware of agitators and instigators who use legitimate protests to ignite chaos between protestors and police. Those seeking only to destruct and destroy should not be associated with those asking for change. With the recent announcement by the governor to deploy the National Guard, I must emphasize that their first priority should be the health and safety of those who choose to demonstrate. We cannot allow the militarization of our great state.”
Senate President Leroy Garcia (D-Colo.)

“Across the nation, and in North Carolina, we’ve seen citizens engage in peaceful protests to express their hurt, a desire for justice, and anger — natural and constitutionally protected reactions — at the senseless loss of George Floyd’s life. Unfortunately, in some instances, including some right here in North Carolina, those protests descended into chaotic riots punctuated by the wanton destruction of property, taunting of law enforcement, and looting.... Local and state executive agency leaders have a duty to the public to be prepared to respond to the kind of anarchy seen on our streets last night. I hope the advance preparation yesterday was not for the police to be given stand-down orders as rioters set fire to buildings and looted stores. Leaders in Raleigh and Wake County should be forthright with the public and explain how this was allowed to happen and provide assurance that adequate steps are in place to prevent this chaos and destruction from happening again.”
Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-N.C.)

“If you feel uncomfortable talking about racism, imagine what it feels like to live with it. Ohioans are not ok. We need immediate action, not the creation of another task force or study group to confirm what we already know is wrong and broken. The time for studying racism is over. We have reports and recommendations that are created, publicized and then placed on a shelf and forgotten about, but never codified.”
House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Ohio)

"Violence is always the wrong way to accomplish change. Turning peaceful protests into rampages of crime is a crime not just against property but is a crime against the cause of social justice. Community and government leaders must listen heavily and then take long-overdue action to deal with systemic and reoccurring racial problems that DO exist in our country. The history of our nation consists of pivotal moments in time that will shape who we are for generations… THIS IS ONE OF THOSE MOMENTS. Our kids are watching and learning.
Assistant Republican Leader Sue Rezin (R-Ill.)

“It is going to take all of us working together to finally achieve change in our communities. We have been fighting for years to fix this broken system that has neither valued nor protected us. Equitable resources are long overdue in the black community, quality jobs, health care and education, and black people should not have to fear for their lives every time they encounter police. I ask leaders on all levels to unite in seeking justice and reform.”
Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Ill.)

"The actions of these officers are egregious and completely unacceptable and my heart goes out to George Floyd's family. I am a supporter of law enforcement, but these officers should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and we must restore order to ensure the safety of our communities.”
Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove (R-Calif.)

“We cannot afford to let this tragedy pass into yesterday’s headlines. America needs healing, and our black community deserves justice for the bigotry and systematic prejudice that many black Americans face every day. Abusive and prejudiced police officers must be held accountable for their actions, and good police officers must be empowered to speak up if they see something wrong—not pressured or shamed into staying silent. This incident is not an isolated one, nor does the violent policing of black Americans exist in a vacuum. Today’s conflicts grew from seeds first planted four hundred years ago, and have been nurtured and twisted by decades of segregation and prejudice. Addressing this problem will take accountability, proper bias training, support for community policing, and the installation of a culture that punishes abuse and rewards integrity. We cannot solve the problem of systemic racism overnight, but we can and must come together as a nation to agree that it exists, to heal the wounds in our nation’s psyche, and to make sure that this kind of tragedy never happens again.”
Senate Majority Conference Leader Vin Gopal (D-N.J.)

"Today, with just a few days' notice, the Ohio Senate is hearing from more than 200 witnesses with either in-person or written testimony (on race issues). Ohioans want to engage in meaningful conversations. The Ohio Senate is committed to listening intently, to better understanding one another, and to working together." —Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Ohio)
"Race issues cannot be solved if we don’t understand all the different ways in which black Ohioans and other minorities are affected. Lawmakers need to listen to as many people as possible, including those who can’t make it to the statehouse." —Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Ohio)

“George Floyd should still be alive. And so should so many others. We have to do better. And that means committing ourselves to standing against racism and fighting for change in our flawed justice system. Standing by isn’t an option.”
Speaker Sara Gideon (D-Maine)

“We have a unique opportunity now to address long-standing issues facing our society. Through a new bipartisan task force in the North Carolina House, we will bring diverse perspectives together to listen and develop solutions that move our state forward.”
Speaker Tim Moore (R-N.C.)

“In joining with others in mourning the death of George Floyd, sympathizing with the suffering of his family and condemning the actions that led to the death of Mr. Floyd, we must recognize that this tragedy calls on us to do more. As a country with equal rights, we must be clear that the mistreatment of anyone based on race is an assault on the values of American society. Though the majority of our law enforcement officers do their jobs honorably, we must ensure no one lives in fear for their own safety or the safety of a loved one because of the color of their skin. As Americans, we can do better. We are capable of bringing greater justice to the way we live and in making progress without any more violence or loss of life. Let’s honor the tragic death of Mr. Floyd and respect the terrible loss of his family by working together peacefully for the equal justice everyone deserves.”
Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-N.J.)

“As I watched the memorial services honoring George Floyd in Minneapolis and Houston, I was riveted by the expressions of grief, love and hope shared by his family. They spoke of a son and brother who, although flawed, was loved and would be sorely missed. As a father, I was deeply moved by the Floyd family’s loss. In a moment when politicians, pundits and protestors were attempting to seize my attention, a grieving family captured my heart. It has become clear to me that, for any of us to be part of meaningful change, we need to internalize a spirit of genuine empathy.”
Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R-Texas)

“Americans and fellow New Jerseyans are right to be angry. Our state and nation grieve for George Floyd, his family and friends. His tragic and senseless death offends our cherished commitment as a state and nation to equal justice and equal rights. When that commitment is breached we all suffer. Let us not tolerate that suffering. We entrust law enforcement officers to keep us safe. That is a trust that should never be broken, and we must acknowledge that the overwhelming majority of New Jersey’s police officers conduct themselves honorably and professionally. So today let us rededicate to ourselves, together, to stand strongly in favor of justice, and in that way we honor Mr. Floyd.”
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-N.J.)

I pray for George Floyd’s family and friends. Justice must be served. The video is gut-wrenching & there is no excuse for this preventable tragedy. I hope everyone remains safe in their public demonstrations & all protests remain peaceful. We must unite & find solutions together.”
Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean Jr. (R-N.J.)

“I became a police officer in response to the violence I saw in our neighborhoods when I was growing up. Policing is supposed to be about protecting people and creating a better future for our young people. That’s not what I saw in the images of George Floyd’s murder, and that’s not what I stand for. There are people in the neighborhoods I represent who are afraid that they will be attacked or their business will be destroyed by people who are hijacking this moment for personal gain. I won’t stand for that either. This is a time to unite and start to heal from decades of mistreatment and neglect. I am committed to working with my colleagues to bring about the changes those fighting for our communities want to see.”
Assistant Majority Leader Senator Antonio Munoz (D-Ill.)

“The evident injustice in the disregard for his humanity is appalling. Going forward, I will work with other local and state leaders to see this pattern never repeat itself.”
State Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Minn.)

“If we are angry over the murder of George Floyd and the system that allowed it to happen, we need to be just as angry over a system that would tolerate taking years off the life expectancy of a child just because she grows up on the West Side without access to quality nutrition or health care or all the other things many of us casually take for granted every day of our lives. These things cannot be tolerated. The unity that we experience in times of crisis must propel us to bring about meaningful fixes. I pledge my support to making those changes. We know our economy has been broken by this pandemic. Mr. Floyd’s murder reminds us that there is more broken in our society. In the days ahead, we have the chance to re-invest in Illinois. Not to rebuild a broken system. Not to restore a sense of comfort to some. Rather, this is an opportunity to re-imagine what Illinois can be for all of us.”
Senate President Don Harmon (D-Ill.)

"Like many Iowans, I was outraged by the violent death of George Floyd and sympathetic to our neighbors in the streets demanding racial justice. Today, the Iowa Senate passed legislation that responses to those asking for change."
Senate President Charles Schneider (R-Iowa)

“I’m relieved to hear the man that unjustly killed Mr. George Floyd has finally been arrested. While this is good news and the right thing to do, our work is far from over in ensuring no one falls victim to the unjustifiable violence and use of excessive force he and so many others have been subject to. We must hold all of the officers involved accountable for their actions, or lack thereof, in George Floyd’s murder. We must work together to make critical, effective, and long-term structural changes so that every Minnesotan feels safe in their community and across the state—regardless of what they look like.”
Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent (DFL-Minn.)

“As public officials, we must all stand together and condemn racism and injustice and reject those individuals in our society who use violence to perpetuate systems of inequality. The racial injustice infecting our nation is abhorrent, as is the violence that now burns like a wildfire throughout our country. To manifest peace, we must remember to be quick to listen, slow to anger and compassionate in our discourse. We must take this opportunity to listen to the cries of our brothers and sisters and to follow the leadership of those trying to create peace and justice in our world. In all that we do, we pledge to listen, to lead and to work toward eliminating this injustice.”
Connecticut House Republican Leader Themis Klarides and Deputy Republican Leader Vincent Candelora

“We have a responsibility as legislators to make sure his life, and the lives of so many others destroyed by police abuse, are not forgotten. Our work must honor their memories.”
Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Calif.)

"While this bill does not solve the issue of discrimination or racism, it is certainly a first step forward. I appreciate the hard work of my colleagues on both sides who have dedicated so much time to this legislation to find common ground."
Speaker Pat Grassley (R-Iowa)

“In these unprecedented times, it is more important than ever that we address the issues that are most significantly affecting Oregonians. The work of this special session is urgently needed, and the issues before us are deeply intertwined. The community uprisings across the country in the weeks since the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and far too many others have made it clear that our systems of policing are in desperate need of transformation. Meanwhile, the COVID - 19 pandemic is devastating Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities and families at much higher rates, many of whom are serving on the frontlines as essential workers keeping our state afloat. This is only one step in the right direction, but the measures we take up in this special session will help us on the path of rebuilding our state into a place where everyone can thrive.”
House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner (D-Ore.)

“Over the weekend, we saw many peaceful protests across our state in the name of justice and reform stemming from the tragic death of George Floyd. Unfortunately, the message of these powerful, peaceful protests is being overshadowed by the actions of a few who caused far too much damage and destruction in Indiana over the weekend. One of our most sacred rights we have as American citizens is the right to assemble peacefully and make our voices heard. As a caucus, we support the governor, our law enforcement agencies and the peaceful protestors working for positive change.” 
Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Ind.) on behalf of the Senate Republican Caucus

“Following the outrageous and untimely deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, protesters in every state are demanding more accountability from law enforcement and from their leaders. There has been a pattern of police officers using excessive force against African-Americans, and this has to change. Further steps toward state-wide police reform have to come from the legislature — and more specifically from this House.”
Speaker Adrienne Jones (D-Md.)

I grieve with the family of George Floyd and members of communities who have seen heinous incidents like these remain all too frequent in our society. This was not policing. This was a crime. I'm committed to learning from these communities and amplifying my colleagues' voices.”
Speaker Robert De Leo (D-Mass.)

"Senate President Martin Looney and I along with the Senate Democratic Caucus we're proud to have the Black Lives Matter Flag flown over the CT State Capitol in honor of Juneteenth. We know this flag is an important symbol but it is only a symbol. That's why together with my Senate Democratic colleagues we released an expansive agenda to tackle systemic racism. Now is the time to act." —Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Conn.)
"Sadly, many of our government & corporate leaders are not only comfortable with the racism that continues to wreak havoc on communities of color, they’re emboldened to stand firmly in their own hatred, bigotry and indifference." —Senator Mia McLeod (D-S.C.)

“I've asked Governor Wolf to call a Special Session on policing and our communities. As Speaker of the House, I stand in solidarity with those confronting racism and racial injustice. We do have an opportunity to show the nation, that in Pennsylvania, all men, women, and children are created equal and are deserving of all the dignity of being human. Silence is not the answer for these challenging times.”
Former Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Pa.)

"I've lived 75 years as an African American. I spent my earliest years in the segregated South. I've served as a Marine in Vietnam and as a cop, councilman and deputy mayor in Newark. I've been a State Senator for 34 years. I am a son and brother. I am a husband and father. I am a grandfather. I am first and foremost a human being, flawed and imperfect, with my own fears to contend with. Today, I reflect on all the things that I am, and all the things I've seen. I do it in honor of George Floyd, in profound grief for him and thousands of others who have been killed by racism. I come to a full stop to honor George Floyd by putting every ounce of my concentration into how America can, once and for all, finally, put our knees on the neck of racism and smother the fear that fuels it.”
Senator Ronald Rice (D-N.J.)

“Words cannot fully convey the grief, disappointment, and pain across Minnesota today. This is disturbing, horrifying, heartbreaking, and something that simply should not have happened. George Floyd’s family and our communities of color deserve justice.”
Speaker Melissa Hortman (D-Minn.)

“Just as I know the overwhelming majority of people protesting in the streets are doing so peacefully, we also know that the vast majority of our law enforcement officers are good men and women of conscience. They are committed to creating safe, vibrant communities where every person has the opportunity to thrive. Our goal should be to help police and protestors come together and find common ground, not drive them further apart. Every time we respond to high-profile incidents with more division, we lose an opportunity for progress. Sweeping stereotypes tear us apart. Peace and perspective is what we need, and as leaders, it’s what we are obligated to work toward. I urge all citizens to turn back attempts to divide us, and stand up to violence. We can let this tear us further apart, or set a new course of unity.”
Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Pa.)

“Tonight has been another night of heartbreak in the wake of the horrendous killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Protests have been unfolding across the country and here in New York. Let's be clear - the reason for the protests themselves is warranted and too familiar. Tonight, two members of the Legislature, who stood in solidarity with the protesters in a peaceful manner and who were trying to help to calm the situation, were pepper sprayed and one was put in handcuffs. Our hope is the heartfelt demonstrations do not lead to more violence, injuries or worse. From what we have witnessed, there must be better coordinated efforts to help de-escalate tensions and allow for our citizens to protest injustices.”
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-N.Y.)

“We stand with Virginians across our Commonwealth who are angry, hurt, tired and frustrated, and yearning for change. We want to work with them to eliminate systemic and institutionalized racism in our economy, in our health care system, in our criminal justice system, and throughout American life. Violence and vandalism distracts from our shared mission. We ask our fellow Virginians to speak out peacefully against these horrible injustices and help us create the change so deeply needed. Now is not the time for destruction, but commitment to reform and action. As leaders, it is our duty to listen, but more importantly, it is our duty to act. We will not let the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and countless African Americans and people of color be in vain.”
Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn and Majority Leader Charniele Herring (D-Va.)

“I don’t pretend to have all the answers, nor can I offer hollow words of hopefulness for the future. But I must speak out, as all people of good will must, or give up on any chance for that future to be more just. At the city level, the state level, and the federal level, we must continue to challenge the status quo of policies that shorten the lives and limit the possibilities of whole segments of our population. We must listen to their experience, and not be afraid to look difficult truths in the face and take the action that those truths demand.”
Senator Liz Krueger (D-N.Y.)

"The killing of George Floyd is an American tragedy, a horrifying and totally unacceptable event that transpired in a manner for all to see. It lay bare deep-rooted racism and ongoing divisions in our country. While it is right those involved were immediately fired, it is not enough. While it is right the lead perpetrator was charged, it is not enough. While it is right the other officers were finally charged, it is not enough. The protests that have gripped our nation are the natural by-product of the country reaching a breaking point. The universal condemnation by police officers at how George Floyd died is welcome. Violence, looting and destruction, however, are unacceptable. While these destructive actions do not reflect the actions of the majority of peaceful protestors, such violence distracts from the important message of the cause."
 —Representative Bradley Jones (R-Mass.)

"The police and armed vigilantes continue to act as if our lives have no value. We are sick and tired of having the need to console mothers, fathers, spouses and children of slain black men and women due to racial injustice and police brutality. It is time for Georgia and the nation to confront the racial terrorism caused by racism corroding our country. We must establish federal, state and local statutes to improve law enforcement practices, increase accountability and provide additional training to deescalate tense police to black citizen encounters."  —Representative Karen Bennett (D-Ga.)

"In order to prevent police brutality and incidences such as we saw with the murder of #GeorgeFloyd, I’m for many reforms such as a push for demilitarization of the police and a reinvestment in some other very important areas such as mental health, housing, community outreach, and healthcare. As a state representative, I’m all about working as hard as I can to author and support doable state legislation that can help achieve the goals stated above."  —Representative Jacob Rosecrants (D-Okla.)

“The death of George Floyd is an outrage and crime. I am pleased that the four officers involved in his death have been charged in the case, and I hope those responsible for it face the full consequences of their actions as provided by Minnesota Law. Peaceful protests are a fundamental right of our republic. I fully support the rights of those peacefully protesting to raise awareness of the challenges still faced by Americans of color. The destruction and violence caused by a very small minority in the last week has no place in civil society. It further divides us and dilutes the call for a more just society. During my time in public office I have had the privilege of coming to know hundreds of men and women who serve in our police departments. The overwhelming majority of them serve with distinction and honor. They are committed to being a positive, constructive influence and they stand ready to make the ultimate sacrifice in defense of those they serve."
 Senator Tom Killion (R-Pa.)

“An Appeal to All: It is imperative that each of us unites with each other in condemning the murder of George Floyd, and commit ourselves to overcoming racism in our lives and in the life of our community. I apologize, as a white American, to my Black Brothers and Sisters for the continuation of racism in our society and clearly understand my responsibility to work for its elimination. Both myself, and each of us, needs to ask: If not now–when? If not me–who?”"
Senator Andy Dinniman (D-Pa.)

"Police officers take an oath to “serve and protect” their communities. This oath is not bound by race, gender or creed. The safety and well-being of all community members should be the main objective of any person who wears a badge. As such, racism has no place among law enforcement, or anywhere else in our nation. I challenge the many other upstanding men and women in law enforcement to call out racism in any form: hold your colleagues accountable. All police officers, unions and administrations must be held accountable to prevent further senseless killings—killings of the very citizens that they are bound to protect and serve."
Senator Dan Champagne (R-Conn.)

“What happened to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and so many other Black Americans is unacceptable, but it is not new. The rage that people are feeling now, and have always felt, is justified and I stand with them in solidarity. Action must be taken to address the systemic inequities that enable these extrajudicial murders. Those in law enforcement and the perpetrators of violence must be held accountable for their actions – just like any other public official. I add my voice to those who demand accountability in law enforcement, an end to mass incarceration, cash bail and the overall lack of resources in communities of color, among many other issues that impact Black communities and communities of color. Not just for the short term, but for the long term." 
Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Ill.)

“The answer to racism is not more hate, but rather love towards one another.”
Representative E. Werner Reschke (R-Ore.)

“I am proud of the Peninsula residents who have strongly, safely and peacefully spoken out in righteous outrage over the killing of George Floyd, the senseless acts of excessive police force against people of color, and the wanton vandalism that has occurred in some communities. I condemn such violence in any form and from any source. It is a betrayal of all our communities and our collective sense of community. This injustice must stop. This is not who we are. As vociferously as we condemn the wrongdoing, we must also praise, celebrate and join the peacemakers: those in the streets, in pulpits and our city halls who have done their utmost to channel our righteous outrage into positive action, including bridge-building, finding common ground, and simple, open conversation.”
Senator Jerry Hill (D-Calif.)

“What a wonderful time of prayer and discussion with colleagues serving in the Alabama House of Representatives. More than a dozen gathered privately in a non-official capacity at a local church in Montgomery to share ideas and offer insight into the current social unrest in America. Seven Democrats and seven Republicans were involved in the process and I must say there was such a sweet spirit throughout the discussion. Allow me to express my appreciation to each who attended and spoke from the heart. The conversation centered around the fact racism is certainly a two-way street, but must be confronted if this nation is to be saved.”
Representative Tracy Estes (R-Ala.)

“George Floyd should be alive today. With the arrest of former Officer Derek Chauvin and the charges of murder and manslaughter, we are a small step closer to justice, and will be closer still once the other officers involved in the killing of George Floyd are also arrested, but justice is not enough. … My heart goes out to the family and friends of George Floyd, and to our grieving community. While the destruction of our neighborhoods will not bring about necessary solutions, it’s important to remember that the anger and frustration physically manifesting is the result of 400 years of oppression. In addition to swift justice, what is needed is a complete overhaul of the institutions meant to serve and protect our communities.”
Representative Raymond Dehn (DFL-Minn.)

“I have strived over the last few weeks to be present with a compassionate, empathetic ear at so many peaceful protests and places where necessary hard conversations are taking place. I have tried to lean into conversations with a desire to understand different viewpoints and how others are feeling and leave the conversation with direction in my role to make positive changes. I was inspired this week by some of the youngest members of my 2019 campaign team as they led the peaceful protest in Chester to stand up and speak out against racism. With a crowd full of teenagers, I hope my words asking them to be constant voices calling for change in our education system resonated with each student and encouraged them to continue advocacy beyond protests.”
Delegate Carrie Coyner (R-Va.)

“The unrest we are seeing here in Indiana and across our nation isn’t just in response to a life tragically taken. It's a response to the anger and sadness that comes from witnessing countless acts of institutional violence against members of the Black community. As an American and Hoosier, I share in those feelings of anger and sadness. Yesterday, like many others, I chose to exercise my First Amendment right and join peaceful protesters from my own community in solidarity. Legislators and local leaders alike should be using the time following this tragedy to amplify the voice and needs of the people in our communities. I'm committed to listening and learning while finding the best legislative solutions to prevent further tragedy and address the systemic issues facing our state and nation.”
Representative Chris Campbell (D-Ind.)

“We've got work to do, young conservatives, to save our party & to save our country. I challenge you to write something--even if to yourself--about how racism makes you feel & how the conservative approach is the way forward. What can you do about it? What will you do about it?”
Representative Jim Nemes (R-Ky.)

“Tonight, Republicans and Democrats came together to pass legislation that makes serious, structural changes to address some of the injustices that people of color face in this state and our country. This bill is pro-police and is supported by Iowa law enforcement. It does nothing to harm good, honest police officers who are doing their jobs to keep Iowans safe. While this bill does not solve the issue of discrimination or racism, it is certainly good first step forward.”
Representative Shannon Lundgren (R-Iowa)

“The young people of America have mobilized in unified outrage and it is time we acknowledged their cries. It is time we acknowledged the humanity and grievances of African-Americans throughout this country. We must not dishonor the tragic murder of George Floyd with empty rhetoric, inaction and mendacious critique of the outraged. Whether it be Jim Crow, disenfranchisement, disinvestment, miseducation, red-lining, mass-incarceration or the infamous ‘War on Drugs,’ institutional racism has systematically infected every aspect of our society. In order to cure this infection, leaders must provide real hope and opportunity to the marginalized. As citizens we must vote. And even more, we must hold our leaders and elected officials accountable. It is time we accept nothing short of tangible change. Policy or legislation will not root out the evil of racism. But it is a start and a charge I intend to lead. I sincerely look forward to working with you as we craft our plan. Prayers to the family of George Floyd and all the victims and families that have been affected by racial discrimination. We are with you both in thought and prayer and you will not be forgotten.”
Senator Napoleon Harris, III (D-Ill.)

“Foremost, I condemn racism as pure ignorance. No thinking person believes they can judge another’s character, intelligence, worth, or any other quality based on something as superficial as skin color. Martin Luther King Jr. taught that we should be judged by merit and action, not by superficial qualities like race. His dream, like that of Lincoln and our founders, was for us to achieve our full potential as a people and a nation. In addition, I condemn criminal violence no matter by whom or for what purpose it is committed. This is particularly egregious when someone in a position of authority and trust commits the act. Police officers should be held to the highest standard; those who use their position to harm others must be made an example of. Rioting and looting is also wrong. There is no excuse for the destruction of property, and none should be made for those who engage in criminal and counterproductive acts.”
Senator Rob Sampson (R-Conn.)

“These recent incidents involving violence and threats against black Americans, along with countless others that were not captured on video, shine a light on the legacy of systemic racism in our country. They illustrate the constant and underlying suspicions, assumptions, and prejudice that prevent too many people from being treated with justice, love, and dignity. This cancer encourages divisive policies, nationalism, and white supremacy while simultaneously tearing at the very fabric of our nation. Every American deserves, and has the fundamental right, to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We all want to live in a society where we feel safe, protected, and respected. We are better than what is transpiring in our country. We can and must do better to guarantee that the liberties and freedoms of every American are protected. We must each play our role in creating a more just and equitable society. This is not the time to sit on the sidelines in silence. The moment requires the harmonization of all our voices speaking as one demanding the change we want and need.”
Representative Phil Robinson (D-Ohio)

“You want to change the world? Start with yourself. Be the right kind of person, a person of good character, and teach your children the same. Teach your kids that their worth lies not in their gender, race, sexuality, social status, or group identity, but in the promise of their character and who they are as an individual who is loved by Almighty God!”
Representative Scott Clem (R-Wy.) 

“George Floyd and his family deserve justice for this unnecessary and tragic death. As we all stand up against inequality and remember George Floyd, it’s important these protests remain focused on bringing the needed change to our country. I support every American’s right to peacefully protest, and I am listening to ideas from my community and neighbors on how to change the system and ways we can better support all Black Americans.  I commend our local law enforcement officers who are protecting us against the crimes of opportunity, who are actively listening to the protestors, and trying to be role a model by keeping the peace and protecting local business.  The death of George Floyd has rightfully sparked outrage and has shown us that we must work together to bring lasting change to our society and ensure justice for all communities.”
Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Calif.)

“I hear the justifiable anger and frustration and I want you to know that I will continue seeking justice and equality under the law. Sadly, there is no doubt that our criminal justice system has inherent flaws and that race is still a factor in the type of justice many receive. Unfortunately, these challenging times have exposed racial disparities in other areas many of us take for granted as well. I’ve seen it as a prosecutor, as a state representative, as a dad and as a human being. We must redouble our efforts to end the inequities. I join with the peaceful protesters who are taking to the streets to have their voices heard. I ask that elements from the fringes stop exploiting their efforts with rioting and looting. It dishonors those who have sacrificed so much, including these victims. Addressing these serious issues will require us to come together, to talk, to listen, to respect one another and to realize that our unique experiences and perspectives inform our current thinking. Through all this I remain committed to ensuring that we truly become one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Representative Todd Stephens (R-Pa.)

“I pledge to continue learning, listening, and working with community partners as we honor the lives of George Floyd, Charleena Lyles, and hundreds of others tragically lost, and address head on the oppressive systems and racist policies facing Black Americans;  I will continue fighting poverty and working for social and economic justice. Black Lives Matter.”
Representative Frank Chopp (D-Wash.)

"What happened to George Floyd is horrible. There is no excuse, and those guilty of crimes associated with his death must be, are being, and will be punished. But those officers are very rare exception, not representative of the thousands of men and women who wear the uniform and the badge and go to work every day to protect and serve."
Representative Kim Coleman (R-Utah)

“The death of George Floyd is a national tragedy that demands justice and action. I, like many are frustrated at the acts of injustice seen across the country. I encourage people to make their voices heard peacefully, respectfully and at the ballot box in November. I pray we can come together as Americans of all races to demand justice for all.”
Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Calif.)

“The death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police was a shocking tragedy that should never have occurred. Like most Americans, we were deeply saddened by this and other similarly distressing incidents. The days since Mr. Floyd’s senseless death have led to a deep introspection of racial relations and racism in our nation. The ongoing intense expressions of anger and concern have exposed raw emotions and revealed this reassessment as both needed and overdue. This is not a time to take polarizing political positions that would serve only to further divide and alienate us. This is a time to listen and learn. We join with our colleagues in the Delaware Legislative Black Caucus to support peaceful protests and engage in a thoughtful process for positive change. We echo their position of respecting and appreciating Delaware’s law enforcement community and pledge to work together on policies “uplifting our communities” and to enact laws reflecting “equality and justice for all.”
Delaware Republican Representatives Danny Short, Steve Smyk, Lyndon Yearick, Ron Gray, Jesse Vanderwende, Kevin Hensley, Mike Smith, Jeff Spiegelman, Mike Ramone, Tim Dukes, Charles Postles, Bryan Shupe, Ruth Briggs King

“Peaceful protest and freedom of speech are fundamental American rights. Never should our society accept abuse, racism, or unjust loss of life. As human beings, we are by no means perfect. Regardless, we can and must strive to rectify the wrongs where they exist in our land. We must also condemn the senseless violence of criminal elements who are terrorizing our cities and towns. They are exploiting this fragile situation and selfishly harming thousands of innocent residents and businesses. This is a growing wildfire that, unchecked, will continue to consume and ultimately destroy us. We must unite to stop it.”
Representative Tom Morrison (R-Ill.)

“Citizens of North Carolina, and across our nation, have seen the horror of George Floyd’s murder. An act so senseless that it has left us all asking why and how this could happen? The reality is that this, and instances like it, are what our African American friends and neighbors live in fear of every day across our state and country. It’s a fear those of us who aren’t African American don’t understand and can be quick to dismiss. We have seen and heard this fear on the signs and from the loud speakers of those who took to the streets in exercise of their First Amendment right to protest. They’ve been crying out asking us to listen and recognize this fear isn’t manufactured or imagined. It is genuine and deeply felt. Sadly, those calling out to be heard have now been drowned out by those who have decided to use this time of national tragedy as an opportunity to break, pillage and burn businesses, many of them minority owned, in an effort to stoke the fires of division and hate. They do not do this out of anger about George Floyd or in an effort to seek justice. They do it because they want us divided and angry. Because if we are together and united in purpose, they can’t be successful in creating the anarchy they so desperately want. We can’t let them win.”
Senator Vickie Sawyer (R-N.C.)

This week I am saddened to see well-meaning protests become hijacked by those who desire to cause mayhem, to commit crimes and to harm people, instead of honoring the life of George Floyd and fighting for change that is long overdue for many communities. People are hurting and they have the absolute right to protest against injustice. Our great nation has been built on the promise, and the right, that individuals have the freedom to march, to call for change, and to protest in a safe, law abiding manner. When this is abused by people who choose instead to loot businesses, destroy property and to riot, this becomes fundamentally un-American. I stand with those who choose to protest, to be heard, but I condemn those who are intentionally trying to tear apart our communities, our cities, under the disguise of a protest.”
Senator Eric Berthel (R-Conn.)

"It is heartbreaking that our nation still falls short when it comes to equality for all. It saddens me greatly that our nation is failing its people. America is not delivering its dream for all people, and we need to understand the root cause of these problems. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his letter from Birmingham Jail, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' I hope Mr. Floyd's family sees justice, and I hope the conversations his death has sparked around our nation lead to change and progress. I am glad to see so many people across our nation and our state not only condemn those actions, but make a commitment to learn more, to listen more and to work even harder to understand one another.”
Senator Kevin Kelly (R-Conn.)

“The killing of Mr. George Floyd is reprehensible, and the actions taken by the Officers involved were unacceptable. Justice should and must be served. Many of the concerns that are being raised by our residents are valid and need to be acknowledged, discussed, and addressed. We can do this as a community together and peacefully. We are committed to continuing to work with you to make sure we can make our State one that we can all be proud of, where all our families can feel safe, protected, and provided with an equal opportunity to be educated and excel in life.”
Representative Rosa C. Rebimbas (R-Conn.) and Senator George S. Logan (R-Conn.)

"What we saw this weekend was grief. Black Americans are hurting because of centuries of loss of Black lives like George Floyd's, and an unjust system that hasn't changed, that too often values property over Black lives. The people are in pain — and more than anything else, this weekend's events show us that we have to listen to the people who feel unseen and unheard, that have no other option.”
Senator Nikema Williams (D-Ga.)

“People ask me when I think these protests and 'riots' might end. I want to remind them that 'a riot is the voice of the unheard.' Now do not get me wrong - I do not condone violence or destruction for its own sake, especially if that violence and destruction is provoked and perpetuated by white supremacists or protest tourists who come into our neighborhoods seeking a thrill, who leave our businesses and communities in flames, only return to their comfortable, insulated, and privileged lives to watch as we are left cleaning up the ashes left behind in their wake. Our pain will not be exploited. But too many in our communities are the same 'unheard' that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of more than half a century ago. And the unheard feel sadness, they feel anguish, and they feel rage. Their voices matter. Their voices deserve to be heard. Not just in the streets, not just on the television, but in the halls of power across this entire country. Their message deserves to ring out: that we will not be satisfied until our police forces stop murdering our brothers and sisters in the streets. Until the people that should be keeping us safe act more like peacemakers, and less like an occupying army. Until we see an America that has truly reckoned with the darkness in its soul and atoned for the sins of the past.”
Representative David Bowen (D-Wis.)

“George Floyd should be alive today. Full stop. His unwarranted and inhumane killing at the hands of a Minneapolis Police officer, while three other officers stood by and did nothing, continues a horrifying and unjust pattern of police violence against Black people in the United States. But his death lit a spark that has inspired millions to rise up, and demand an end to systemic racism and structural violence in our country. Some in our communities decry the disruptions that these uprisings have brought, and long for the so-called ‘peace’ that preceded the protests. But what value is there in an illusory ‘peace’ for some of our neighborhoods, while horrific, structural violence plagues others? There is no peace without justice! In the absence of true justice in our society – racial, economic, and structural – ‘peace’ is nothing more than a buzzword bandied about by those who live comfortably, untouched by the systemic violence that lurks below the surface every single day.”
Representative Jonathan Brostoff (D-Wis.)

“The brutal killing of George Floyd is a horrific tragedy that never should have occurred. There is simply no place in our society for police brutality, and whenever it does occur those responsible must be held accountable. But it is not a reason to vilify and punish every man and woman in law enforcement who serves to protect and serve our communities in New York, nor should it be a reason to sow division.”
Senator John Flanagan (R-N.Y.)

 “Our law enforcement officers have tremendous power and with that power comes responsibility and a need for accountability. The four officers who murdered George Floyd knew they were being videoed and believed they would not be punished for needlessly brutalizing him. If he’d survived, they may have been right. This is not the first time we’ve seen this sort of police violence, but I hope it will be the last. We must take steps to make our law enforcement agencies and officers more accountable now. It won’t bring George Floyd back, but hopefully we can save other lives.”
Representative Erin Zwiener (D-Texas)

“Last week a terrible tragedy occurred in an otherwise great American city. What happened to George Floyd was reprehensible and my thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. I am fully supportive of those who are peacefully trying to change things for the better and our first responders, who are protecting us and our rights, as well as our society and system of government as a whole. As an ardent supporter of the Bill of Rights and our Constitution, I believe every American has a right to voice their opinions and peacefully assemble, however, when those peaceful assemblies and protests turn violent we must protect the lives, property and livelihoods of innocent Americans. What happened to Mr. Floyd was a terrible injustice; the looting and violence that has resulted from his tragic death is no way to remedy this injustice and needs to end immediately. We have a lot of work to do to heal these wrongs. We must be better, together.”
Representative Dan Ugaste (R-Ill.)

“As an African American, I understand things are difficult for minority communities. We are disgusted watching another African American murdered at the hands of a police officer. We are angry that African Americans are locked up at such high numbers and upset that we live in poverty. We see no justice; we see no equality; we see just abuse and want it to stop. I pray every day for an answer to address this situation, but I would be lying if I knew a complete answer. I can say we need to work together as a community to make sure that we become stronger, and not forfeit the progress we have made because a small minority of people have decided to commit violent acts. The only way we will overcome the challenges we face is by looking past the violence of a select few, and realizing that we all want the same thing; a better community, a future for our children, and to be treated fairly. We are not competing against one another but are on the same side.”
Representative Joe Almeida (D-R.I.)

“Proposals in Washington, New York City and legislatures across America to defund the police are both dangerous and frightening. The many brave men and women who put their lives on the line day in and day out to protect us should be thanked and applauded, not targeted for political advantage. Everyone was appalled by the tragic death of George Floyd and the instances of police brutality we have seen. His death has rightfully opened a debate and discussion on how to improve policing in this country and eliminate the bad actors. But to respond by denying funding to the very people whose job it is to keep us safe makes no sense.”
Assemblymember Joe DeStefano (R-N.Y.)

“Delaware took a long-overdue step forward today when the State Senate unanimously passed SB 191, the first leg of an amendment to the state Constitution that would explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin. Dismantling systemic racism in Delaware must begin with our founding document from which all other laws in our state are derived. Once the amendment process is complete, our Constitution will state clearly, once and for all, that all people – no matter their skin color and no matter their backgrounds – are guaranteed the basic rights and dignity that have been promised to us for generations. America’s original sin can only be addressed through acts of social justice and this is the first step in the long road to redemption that lays ahead.”
Senator Darius Brown (D-Del.)

“The death of George Floyd was tragic, and the officers involved should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We also need to reform our criminal justice system. It’s become too complicated and cumbersome for people to understand and also too expensive for people with less resources. I’ve started some work on this issue with my Republican and Democrat colleagues at the statehouse.
Like the vast majority of Hoosiers and Americans, I support the actions of peaceful protestors demanding justice. However, the violence and anarchism of a few extremists jeopardizes our freedoms and rights. Our government should exercise leadership and better protect people’s rights to Life, Liberty and Property. It’s really the main responsibility and most important function of the government.”
Senator Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.)

“No Justice No Peace. I am so proud of the protesters that came to the Georgia State Capitol. We not only support you but working to pass our Justice For All legislation this session. Your presence is felt; your voice is heard. Together we are fighting and taking action against both systemic racism and legislative racism. Your energy is powerful! Stay focused. Keep going.”
Representative Kim Schofield (D-Ga.)

“To all the good cops out there - the thousands of amazingly selfless, brave, decent and good men and women serving in the thin blue line in Texas - the Texas Legislature has your back. There should be no debate: We will boldly pursue justice for any Texan wronged by police misconduct. And we will stand and fight against racism, discrimination and hate in all of its forms. But we will proudly give honor to whom honor is due. And to the officers out there at this very moment laying your very lives on the line to keep us safe ... you are at the top of that list.”
Representative Jeff Leach (R-Texas)

“I saw a tweet the other day that said “this isn’t about Democrat vs Republican, this is about all of us against racism.” I could not agree more. And it’s ok to be uncomfortable about racism, it’s not something our nation talks about often and it forces us to examine parts of our lived experiences and relive memories that we try to forgot. Embrace that discomfort, and let’s learn & grow together.”
Representative Anna Eskamani (D-Fla.)

“The deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and others confront us with appalling and unacceptable circumstances. The regrettable violence employed and the public outcry and protests ensuing warrant serious inquiry and concerted action on the part of elected and appointed officials at every level. Pennsylvania desperately needs constructive conversation about finding a balance in police and community relations, about ensuring that the fundamental right to protest is not curtailed, and about taking effective steps to erase the biases in law, procedure, and attitudes that perpetuate the corrosive racial divide, diminishing the value and scope of freedom for everyone.”
Senator Lisa Baker (R-Pa.)

“Regardless of our political stance we must appreciate the ideals that the flag stands for. Our country is far from perfect and today, we see ourself in a state of turmoil as racism and bigotry are prevelant. Our citizens are marching in the streets demanding rights and liberties that should be automatic to all. I pray for our country and it’s leadership and for the freedoms and liberty we enjoy under the American flag. As Virgin Islanders and American Citizens we are grateful for rights extended to us because of our flag. God’s blessings on our flag, over our territory and throughout this nation.”
Senator Kenneth Gittens (D-Virgin Islands)

“I welcome those from Minneapolis that wish to leave the insanity and come to Kansas where we respect ALL people, including our law enforcement. One of the primary functions of government is Public safety. Even the implication that a peaceful society can exist without an organization to enforce it's laws is ludicrous. Racism is real. Injustice is tragic. George Floyd should not have died! I am committed to do my part to work with my fellow legislators and community leaders to "rethinkkansas" and the way we approach and deal with these issues....but let me be clear, law enforcement will ALWAYS be part of the equation and will ALWAYS be part of the conversation.”
Representative Stephen Owens (R-Kan.)

“It is important we demand accountability & transparency, in our attempts to save lives.
We must keep organizing in our local communities and fight the many ways in which racism manifests itself in our institutions. Public Safety is for the public, therefore, the public should and must work towards holding our policing entities to placing the public's safety first and foremost in their mindset, training & approaches. And communities must be involved!”
Representative Patricia Roybal Caballero (D-N.M.)

“Today the people of Monroe came together for a peaceful and powerful gathering on the green. Today’s event was about standing together in unity and with a shared desire to acknowledge and raise awareness around the issues of racism, discrimination and the need to do better as a nation to deliver the American dream for all people. It is heartbreaking that our nation still falls short when it comes to equality for all. I hope these conversations continue, with even more voices at the table and more people listening to one another with open hearts and minds.”
Senator Kevin Kelly (R-Conn.)

“If we are truly interested in equity, in fairness for all people, in justice and in eliminating systemic racism in our society, we must dedicate ourselves to a lifetime of work. It will not happen overnight. It will not happen within a year. This will be an ongoing and often heartbreaking fight, but it’s one that is crucial for our survival.”
Representative Ben Sanchez (D-Pa.)

“The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln and civil rights. I am heartbroken to see insensitive and divisive rhetoric being expressed over the tragic killing of George Floyd when our nation needs healing. I ask all leaders to set an example and be the light in the darkness that overcomes hate.”
Senator Donna Campbell (R-Texas)

“There will be legislation focusing on police reform, however, a big part of the institutional racism built into the criminal justice system is in substantive law, procedure, sentencing and prison policy which is less visible to the public but has a massive disparate impact in this country. We cannot let policing reform be the only focus.”
Senator Scott Surovell (D-Va.)

“I am white. I will never know what it is like to be black. One thing that white people, like me, can do is listen. Listen to black voices, listen to black experiences, and learn. As State Representative, I will continue to do that and pledge to work to make positive changes. Getting through this difficult time will take compassion, collaboration, communication, and reform.”
Representative Devin Carney (R-Conn.)

“It is no longer enough to be non-racist - we must recognize the urgent importance of being anti-racist. We must hold ourselves, our family, our friends, neighbors, and leaders accountable, while advancing reforms and policies that ensure justice, equity, equality, and opportunity for those who have long suffered as a result of systemic racism. This starts with saying, unequivocally, that Black Lives Matter. Despite the efforts by some agitators to misrepresent this imperative; this does not mean Black Lives Matter more than others; rather, it is to say that Black Lives Matter as much as mine and everyone else’s. We are seeing in this moment that for too long, Black lives have been treated as less than others. Not only do we have to say that Black Lives Matter, we have to show it in how we structure our society and its institutions … and, in the way we act and what we say. Remember, apologies are important, but it is even more important to conduct ourselves so that we do not have to make them.”
Senator Richard Roth (D-Calif.)

“No one person has all the answers. My mom always told me, “God gave us two ears and one mouth so we’d listen twice as much as we speak.” It’s time we listen. It’s time we clarify our intentions and set a goal while we work to convert our emotions into fuel for action. I stand with so many others united and determined to collect input and bring about positive change for our brothers and sisters of color. It will take many groups, people of many races, people from all socioeconomic strata, but I know we can and will do it. Any conversation, debate or conflict that detracts from these goals undermines our ability to achieve them. Let’s fix this together.”
Senator Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Va.)

“How many more unarmed black brothers and sisters must die at the hands of white police officers, neighborhood watch volunteers and people feigning citizen arrests? We must ask America today the same question that civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer posed over 50 years ago when she addressed a committee at the Democratic National Convention, “Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, where [blacks] . . . [are] threatened daily, because we want to live as decent human beings, in America?” I too, along with so many others, are “sick and tired of being sick and tired” of the systemic and structural racism and discrimination that exists within the health care, economic, criminal justice, education and housing systems of this country. Enough is Enough!”
Senator Borris Miles (D-Texas)

“Racism in all its forms is immoral and has no place in our society. Unfortunately, George Floyd’s death shows that we still have a systemic problem that needs to be solved. It’s not going to be quick or easy. It starts by listening and improving education. This measure is a good step forward. It will help ensure that all law enforcement officers in our state have the best training to keep our communities safe and protect the rights of all Michigan residents.”
Senator Dale Zorn (R-Mich.)

“George Floyd and Eric Garner yelled out the same words as they were brutally killed by police officers. We need real change to protect black Americans, and part of that is ensuring there are consequences for misconduct on the part of police officers. This legislation is one of many steps in that direction. I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this bill into law and hope to continue working with his administration to make our state a fairer and more equal place to call home.”
Assemblymember Walter Mosley (D-N.Y.)

“Silence is acceptance. I don’t expect people to comment on every single injustice in our country because sadly you could spend your whole day doing that, but if you have the ability to speak out against racism within your own network or within your profession, you should say something. It will take more than simply being ‘not racist’ to change the fundamental injustices ingrained in our culture. It will take overt opposition to racism. As a Latino woman, I understand these inherent prejudices more than most, but I know that my ‘brown-ness’ doesn’t give me the right to speak for the African American community and the challenges they face. It’s time we each take a good hard look at what kind of people we want to be. We can always evolve our views and change for the better, and it’s all our job to educate ourselves about our own prejudices to do better and be better.” —Representative Vanessa Guerra (D-Mich.)

"We can commemorate Juneteenth but we must also recognize that although the enslaved went free 155 years ago, Black Americans are still struggling for freedom & justice. We are still held down by institutional racism, from pay disparities to racial profiling, to police brutality." —Assemblymember William McCurdy (D-Nev.)