DOYLESTOWN >> The Bucks County Commissioners on June 1 released individual statements responding to the killing of George Floyd and the public outrage and demonstrations across the nation that have turned violent.
Statement of Diane M. Ellis Marseglia, Chair
I am almost 60, and my first real awareness of racism and bigotry came in explanations of why there were the riots in Trenton, Newark and Philadelphia after the deaths of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy. I also grew up with a chronic fear of a nuclear war and people dying of radiation sickness. Those worries influenced my life and career choices.
In the past three months both memories have re-visited: first with COVID-19 and so many people succumbing to it, and now with the sad and brutal loss of George Floyd and the injustice that resurfaces for so many.
I am grateful for the grace of the Bucks County residents who have journeyed through this pandemic and remind you we need to stay in our safety lanes because this is not over. I am sorry for the pain that many residents are feeling for the losses they have experienced during this pandemic.
I am also grateful for the grace of Bucks County residents as they use their words to express their anger at the death of Mr. Floyd. I am sorry for the pain that so many Bucks County residents carry, and for the suffering they and their families and friends have felt over too many years.
We cannot keep ourselves or our fellow man safe if we are caustic and selfish and foolish and refuse to wear masks or maintain social distances. We cannot keep our fellow man safe if we do not stand up against any form of bigotry and racism. And none of us can ever keep anyone safe by engaging in any form of violence.
We are our brothers’ keepers.
Statement of Commissioner Bob Harvie, Vice Chair
The murder of George Floyd should disgust every American, regardless of their race or ethnicity. It is yet another sign that the racial divide in our nation continues to exist.
But the acts of violence, looting and vandalism are disgusting as well, and serve no useful purpose.
Just as the four Minneapolis police officers who took part in Mr. Floyd’s death tarnished the good work and reputations of dedicated members of law enforcement across our country. The criminals who turned his tragic death into a license to destroy and steal have dishonored Mr. Floyd’s memory, as well as the efforts of peaceful protesters and activists all across the United States.
Here in Bucks County we have faith leaders, educators, police officers, politicians and activists who work every day to build up our communities and serve our neighbors. They do this work out of a love for their fellow men and women, and with confidence that the power of hope and hard work can effect change.
We have shown tremendous strength in our country over the past few months as we have fought against the effects of the coronavirus. We need to harness that same strength again to preserve the promise of America for all Americans.
Statement of Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo
I remember the violence of 1968, when our cities were on fire and our citizens died in the rioting that occurred after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy were murdered.
The killing of George Floyd was tragic, heartbreaking and shocking. All of our life experiences are different. Because of that, many of us cannot adequately speak to the level of rage felt by those for whom racism and oppression have been a constant part of their lives.
We should all speak out against racism in all of its forms. Most importantly, we must, as public officials, find ways to take actions that can begin to heal these wounds and make the types of meaningful changes in our society and our policies that can make sure that everyone’s rights are protected, help make everyone’s lives better, and bring us closer together instead of driving us farther apart.
Violence in response to violence is not the answer. The anger and the rage should and must be expressed. The right to speak out, loudly and bluntly, is a cherished guarantee of our Constitution.
But the destruction of an innocent person’s property and livelihood does not make our society better. It only drives a wedge between people who could, and should, be helping one another. Let’s re-commit ourselves to working together for positive change.