The Arlington County Board condemns the murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, including the complicit officers who participated in and witnessed the murder. While the video was shocking, the circumstances of the murder should not be; they are too familiar in a nation where the disregard for and devaluing of Black lives is too common, and too often comes at the hands of the people sworn to protect them.
The anger and grief currently on display in cities across the nation is not only a reaction to these acts of ultimate violence against Black Americans, but also to the systematic racism that pervades life, and access to opportunity, in our nation. We know that Arlington is not exempt from this racism and its impacts.
The vast majority of those who are demonstrating in our cities are doing so peacefully. Their passionate demands for justice, and for an end to police violence and systemic racism in our country, should not be overshadowed by the lawless acts of a few. Violence must not be met with violence.
In Arlington, we require that our Arlington County Police contribute to a culture of caring and respect, not cruelty or violence, and we commend our police leadership for guiding the department accordingly. The display of Arlington County Police escorting peaceful protesters yesterday was a symbol of the trust that the community extends to our officers and the trust that our officers are committed to earning. But this does not mean we are satisfied with the current state of Arlington County.
Over the past two years, we have prioritized a racial equity framework, Race: Realizing Arlington’s Commitment to Equity, beginning with digital access, housing, and public health. The recognition of racial disparities in COVID-19’s impact on our community has also driven our efforts in our pandemic response. Yet this is only the start, and we recognize that a true anti-racist agenda for our community requires more listening, more action, and more change to the status quo. St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said this weekend, “we are calling for peace; we are not calling for patience.”
We thank the Arlington community for your support, your advocacy and advice, and your caring for each other. As we mourn the death of George Floyd, we are also inspired to be better and do better.