As I reflect on the last week or so, I sit here writing to you with heartbreak, anger and immense frustration. Of course, I know I am but one of the tens of millions of Americans feeling the exact same thing.
What happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis; Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky; Ahmaud Arbery in Satilla Shores, Georgia – and countless other black Americans – is heinous and unacceptable. As a country, we can no longer let this brutality continue. Racism is far too pervasive in America. And the prejudice and hate that stems from it is dangerous, wrong and deeply disturbing. Yet, it’s also plagued our country for generations.
But now, our country has clearly reached a long overdue tipping point – and turning point. No longer can our response to racism – and the killings of black Americans in our streets, including murder by those sworn to protect us – be indifference or apathy. And more than anything – our response cannot be inaction.
What we’ve been seeing play out across cities and townships throughout the country these last nine days are Americans taking to the streets speaking out to say they’ve had enough of the status quo. They are demanding meaningful systematic and structural changes to address the egregious racial inequities in our justice system and, really, in every facet of our government and society – including in policing, housing, health care, education and employment, to name a few.
We must reckon with the violence that black Americans experience – and take action. Because, as Martin Luther King Jr. said – “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” This sacred plea should always be our North Star – now, more than ever.
While I know so many are feeling incredible pain, anger and frustration in our communities – and rightfully so – I call on you to try and keep your focus on seeking justice for George Floyd and achieving the change we so desperately need. Peaceful protests can be the catalyst for that change. But what will not help toward that change is what we saw in Las Vegas Monday night, where there were shootings leaving a police officer in critical condition. Violence is unacceptable and it’s outrageous. That should not be our answer to our frustrations, outrage and deep sadness. We must remember that our unity is our power – and it will overcome those trying to hold us back from a more just future.
And as a U.S. senator, I want Nevadans and all Americans to know that I am committed to using my seat at the table to dismantle the systemic racism, discrimination and prejudices that have been prevalent in government and public life for too long. But it’s going to take each and every one of us continuing to demand more – and better – in order to achieve it.
Every American deserves the right to feel protected and safe – regardless of the color of their skin. And I firmly believe that one of the most critical ways we work to ensure that is by voting in new leadership and a change of power in November. A leader is not someone who threatens military force on American citizens and has police attack peaceful protestors with tear gas all for a photo op in front of a church while acting like he’s on the red carpet, holding a Bible as his prop. And leaders are also not those who continue to fail to hold this racist and xenophobic president accountable – and only embolden and empower the ugliest in him and America. We must vote for leaders that will stand beside us in this fight.
I hope you know that the work you’re doing every day, as part of this grassroots community, will elect leaders who will foster the environment to affect the change we need. I know I say this a lot, but it really does feel like now, more than ever, this work couldn’t be more important. Please keep speaking out and standing up for what is right – and for the America we know we can achieve for our children and grandchildren, together. And above all else, please stay safe and take care of yourself and those you love.
¡La lucha sigue!