Velazquez on Minneapolis
Washington, DC –Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) released the following statement regarding events in Minneapolis:
“Tragically, three simple words – ‘I can’t breathe’ - have become a powerful symbol of how structural racism in America quite literally kills people. As I have said for some time, COVID-19 has crystalized longstanding inequalities and cruelties in our society. Those of us from New York remember all too painfully Eric Garner’s death, and we still feel his family and community were robbed of justice. Now, in Minneapolis, we’re seeing another African American man killed by police officers. Here at home, we’re seeing video of a white woman in Central Park threatening to call the police on an African American man after he asked her to comply with the rules and leash her dog. We’re watching police violently enforce social distancing requirements in communities of color, while rules go unenforced in more affluent areas.
“Every single American should feel anger and outrage. People of color are tired, not just of systematic abuse at the hands of law enforcement, but of income inequality, crumbling public housing, underinvestment in education, barriers to entrepreneurship and lack of access to affordable health care. All these symptoms of the underlying racism in American society contribute to the disproportionately higher mortality rates from COVID-19 we are seeing today in black and brown communities.
“I have called for and will keep pushing for a swift and thorough investigation by federal authorities into the police officers in Minnesota. There should be criminal charges and the officers involved should be arrested immediately. I will continue my work in our City to end over-policing and harassment of people of color by law enforcement. These injustices are a stain on our nation’s conscience, and it is incumbent on every single one of us to recognize this reality with clear eyes, while endeavoring to root out prejudice in all its forms.
“Lastly, let me say that for the President of the United States to escalate tensions with dangerous tweets, threatening violence against the people of Minneapolis is beyond abhorrent. We’ve long known this President thrives on stoking racial animus and deepening divisions, but his latest remarks are a new low.
“It is difficult to be optimistic, right now. Nonetheless, every day I see New Yorkers of different backgrounds lending neighbors, friends and strangers a helping hand as we navigate this historic crisis. For my part, I will do my best to continue fighting injustice, while trying to forge ahead holding love and compassion for others in my heart.”