Monday, June 01, 2020

Mayor Melvin Carter: “The Anger Is Real, and I Share It With You”

Yesterday morning, Mayor Melvin Carter III of Saint Paul delivered an impassioned and inspiring speech at a press conference hosted by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz. The press conference was held in response to the ongoing protests and social unrest in Minneapolis and Saint Paul following the May 25 killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

Yesterday, we asked a big thing of our residents. We asked you to stay home. We asked you to clear the streets to give our police officers and law enforcement professionals the opportunity to reclaim a sense of peace, a sense of calm, a sense of order in our community. At the heart of that request was an invitation. It was an invitation for us to take the anger, to take the grief, to take the trauma, and even the rage that we’ve all experienced over the past week, and decide how we would channel it.

[. . .] We know that right now is a moment of deep soul searching for our community, and for our nation. Right now, we ought to be focused on the fact that George Floyd should still be alive today. We ought to be focused on the fact that when someone takes one of our lives in such dramatic and gruesome fashion, especially when it’s as well-documented as George Floyd’s murder was, that we ought to have some ability to be confident, to be sure that the people responsible, not just one, but the four people responsible for his death will of course be held to account in a democracy as great as ours.

We’ve had a lot of conversations about whether [those inciting acts of violence and property destruction] are insiders or outsiders, whether they’re from in town or out of town. The one thing that’s absolutely clear to me is those folks who would seek to act in a way that during a pandemic would deprive our senior citizens of the local pharmacy they need to go to, to get their life-saving medicine; who in the midst of a food shortage would deprive our families of the grocery stores they need to go to, to feed their children; who would deprive in the middle of one of the greatest economic crises in our country’s history our workers from the opportunity to go to work, and to earn a living, and to build, and to go and participate in our economy. The one thing that is clear to me is those folks [and] those actions are not driven by a sense of deep drive for the betterment of our community.

I also want to acknowledge, as I have before, that that doesn’t mean there’s not real rage, that doesn’t mean there’s not real anger, and that doesn’t mean that our residents are happy with what happened. We’re not. I don’t know a single police officer, I don’t know a single CEO, I don’t know a single lawyer, accountant, neighbor, or community activist who’s happy with what happened, who’s accepting what happened. George Floyd’s killing is unacceptable, and it’s disturbing by itself. In combination with all of the other people, African American people, African American men, who’ve lost their lives unarmed, unaggressive, not just over the past decade as camera phones have become the norm, but over the past decades, and generations, and centuries in our country. That anger is real, and I share it with you.

Today we’re asking our community for peace, but I want to be very clear. We are not asking you for patience, and we are not asking you for pacifism. This is not a time for either of those things. I am not asking you to sit to the side and patiently wait while we slowly and incrementally stem the bloody tide of African American men killed by law enforcement. We’re asking you to take that energy, that energy which has consumed our country, that energy which is a nuclear energy that could either destroy us or bring us together and build us up in a way that we have never been together before as a country. We’re asking you to take that energy and use it not to destroy our neighborhoods, but to destroy the historic culture, to destroy the systemic racism, to destroy in specific where this is concerned the laws, the legal precedents, the police union contracts, all of the things that make it so difficult to hold someone accountable when a life like George Floyd’s is so wrongfully taken.

If I had one thing that could stop all of this, that could help ease all of the anger that we feel, it would be something in our history, some historic pattern or fact, or trend that could make us feel confident and secure that the officers involved will be held accountable, that we as a nation are using this as a pivot point to chart a new course for our country. Sadly, we don’t have the historical fact, or the historical trend to show that, but the energy that we’ve seen this week, the passion that we’ve seen this week, the dedication for a better country, a better future, a better state, and a better city that we’ve seen this week is that energy, is that tool.

We’re asking you to channel that energy in a way that builds us, in a way that makes us better, in a way that brings us together. And to every single person who’s frustrated, who’s sad, who’s angry, who’s devastated, who wants the world to know that this can never happen again, I say that we’re with you. I thank our law enforcement professionals for serving us so valiantly, our firefighters for serving us so valiantly over the course of a devastating week, working in challenging conditions, sometimes with bottles, sometimes with rocks hurled at them. I know that they have to stand as a part of this work with us as we build this stronger pact, this stronger social compact, and this better future together. Thank you.

To read the transcript of Mayor Carter's speech in its entirety, click here.

NEXT: He Called Mama.
He Has Called Up Great Power

Related Off-site Links:
Outsiders and Extremists Are Among Those Fomenting Violence in Twin Cities – Jon Collins and Elizabeth Shockman (MPR News, May 30, 2020).
Far-Right Infiltrators and Agitators in George Floyd Protests: Indicators of White Supremacists – Mia Bloom (Just Security, May 30, 2020).
Minnesota Officials Link Arrested Looters to White Supremacist Groups – Jon Parton (Courthouse News Service, May 30, 2020).
Far-right “Boogaloo” Militants Have Embedded Themselves in the George Floyd Protests in Minneapolis: “They Want Their Civil War” – Tess Owen (VICE, May 29, 2020).
Minnesota Attorney General Suggests Auto Zone Riot Starter Was “Provocateur” – Roman White (The Source, May 29, 2020).
Mayor Frey: The People Doing the Burning Are Not Minneapolis Residents – Declan Desmond (Bring Me the News, May 30, 2020).
Police Erupt in Violence Nationwide – Matthew Dessem (Slate, May 31, 2020).
After Four Nights Without Police Presence, Neighborhoods Protect Themselves – Liz Sawyer, Ryan Faircloth, Briana Bierschbach and Libor Jany (Star Tribune, May 31, 2020).

UPDATES: George Floyd's Brother Pleads for Peace as Trump Sends in Troops to “Dominate the Streets” – Peter Marsh (ABC News, June 1, 2020).
“We Came to Riot”: Illinois Man Livestreamed Lighting Fires and Handing Out Explosives to Throw at Police Officers in Minneapolis, Charges Say – Andy Mannix (Star Tribune, June 1, 2020).
Tensions on Streets Slowly Ebb in Wake of George Floyd's Death – Pam Louwagie and Jessie Van Berkel (Star Tribune, June 1, 2020).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
“I Can't Breathe”: The Murder of George Floyd
Something to Think About – May 28, 2020
Honoring George Floyd
“New and Very Dangerous”: The Extreme Right-Wing Infiltration of the George Floyd Protests
Trevor Noah on the “Dominoes of Racial Injustice”
Rallying in Solidarity with Eric Garner and Other Victims of Police Brutality
In Minneapolis, Rallying in Solidarity with Black Lives in Baltimore
“Say Her Name” Solidarity Action
“We Are All One” – #Justice4Jamar and the 4th Precinct Occupation
Quote of the Day – March 31, 2016
“This Doesn't Happen to White People”
Remembering Philando Castile and Demanding Abolition of the System That Targets and Kills People of Color
Sweet Darkness
Photo of the Day, 5/3/2015: “Black Is Sacred”
“And Still We Rise!” – Mayday 2015
“And Still We Rise!” – Mayday 2015 (Part II)
Something to Think About – March 25, 2016

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