HENRICO, V.A. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today released the following statement following the death of George Floyd and a week marked by nationwide unrest regarding racial inequities, police brutality, and injustice.
“This week, the murder of one man and the world’s reaction to it have laid bare — yet again — the inequities in our society, the bias and sadness that exist in the hearts of too many, and the work we must all undertake to make an ever-more just society.
“George Floyd died on the ground, in handcuffs, with a sworn officer’s knee on his neck. As his life left his body, his last words were a call for his mother, “I can’t breathe,” and desperate pleas for the officers to stop. The whole world has seen the video of his death, because in today’s day and age, the violent deaths of black men — and women — no longer occur unseen; they are caught on video, after video, after video. They have made the truth undeniable.
“That truth is that injustice, bias, and racism continue to exist, and at times thrive, in our country. It is a truth that — while sometimes obscured, overlooked, or ignored — has always been present, especially in the lives of black Americans. I do not personally know the exhausting fear of worrying that a trip to the store, a jog, a speeding ticket, or music played too loudly could result in death. But I know that in this country, no person should face the pervasive worry that a misunderstanding, a misjudgment, or direct racism could take the life of a loved one.
“While death after death shocks our consciousness and brings people to the streets in protest, anger, and despair, it is the everyday results of inequity and bias that weaken us and breed the hate and structural power dynamics that allow for murder after murder, death after death. The results of inequity and bias impact everything from suspension rates, to housing access, to health outcomes, to medical interventions, to job opportunity and promotions, to criminal sentencing, and even to the very safety of the water one drinks and air one breathes.
“At a time when COVID-19 is devastating American families and disproportionately taking the lives of black Americans, these realities are as painful and undeniable as George Floyd’s death. Today, we must stand united in our horror and anger at blatant offenses like the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, but in the days to come, our work must focus on the foundations of inequity and bias that make these horrors possible.
“We must teach our children to be kinder, we must examine our own biases and be better, we must expect more of each other and our elected leaders, and most importantly, we must demand policies that focus on progress and dismantle structures that disadvantage. As an elected representative, I mourn with those who are anguished, but I also renew my commitment to ensuring that the arc of the moral universe further bends towards justice.”