The current unrest  in the US concerns everyone, as do the many unnecessary deaths of black Americans.    The recent events in Minneapolis have once again pointed a spotlight on the excessive, and many times fatal, use of force.   That misuse of force led directly to the death of George Floyd, who was accused of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill.  That such a charge could lead to his death is beyond belief, and cannot be excused.

As one of our immigrants rights organizations said so well, we recognize that our fight for justice for immigrants is the same fight in which black Americans are engaged, not only because there are millions of black immigrants in America, but also because members of many policing institutions in this country (from local police to state patrol to border patrol to ICE) have been agents of oppression instead of protection, for people of color.  We support the work of groups that seek to change those institutions so that they mirror the inclusive communities that they serve, and so that they will uphold always the duty to serve  and protect everyone in their communities.

Those who have protested peacefully have had every right to do so, and they are to be commended and respected.  Those who have participated in violence and looting have hurt innocent bystanders and owners of many small businesses who did not deserve such injury and property damage.   It must stop, because the longer violence and looting continue, the more they will be used as an excuse to divert the nation’s attention from systemic racism and the prosecution of those responsible for Mr. Floyd’s death.

Chapman Law Firm stands in support of George Floyd and his family, black Americans and other members of marginalized communities, as well all immigrants who have too often been treated as disposable and invisible.  America needs to fulfill its promise to all who live here, and give them the respect and equal opportunity that they are due.   That promise needs to be delivered in  every possible way, so that America sees structural, and not just cosmetic, change.  That change needs to be reflected in our systems of health care, education, our tax system, the use of tax dollars, housing, the availability of recreation and cultural facilities, and more.  Local and state law enforcement must incorporate and use regular programs to teach their members how to recognize and oppose racism against people of color and all other minorities in every possible way.  They must emphasize conflict resolution and de-emphasize the use of force and all related tools that can be, and so often are, used violently and unfairly.

It was more than a coincidence that Martin Luther King Jr lost his life to an assassin’s bullet when he was in Memphis to support the Sanitation Workers strike.  Those city workers were largely people of color, and they were peacefully seeking better working conditions.   Peaceful protest has an honored tradition in Greensboro, in this country and worldwide.   It should and will continue, but so must the work in our institutions, so that they reflect the promise in our Declaration of  Independence, that all men and women are created equal, and all of them have the uncompromised right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Finally, we appreciate the good work being done by the Greensboro Police Department in monitoring the peaceful protests here in Greensboro, and trust that the GPD will continue to evaluate its practices and procedures.