Yesterday, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman released the following statement:
The brutal torture and murder last week of Mr. George Floyd – a handcuffed and unarmed African-American man who had just been arrested as a suspect in a nonviolent crime by a white police officer on the streets of Minneapolis as his peers protected him from outraged observers – has justifiably angered the American people, a people who recite a pledge that ends with the words “Liberty and Justice For All.”
I am angry as well. I am angry because an innocent human life was taken by an agent of government. I am also angry because too many Americans think it’s ok.
Here in Anne Arundel County, it was only last summer that our residents came together to recognize the horror and brutality of lynchings that had taken place in our county – lynchings by white mobs of African American victims.
We acknowledged at that time that the racism driving that violence and terror still exists in our communities.
We acknowledged that hate crimes and hate bias incidents were growing in our county, and that our numbers were higher than any other county in the state.
Hundreds of us came together in the fall under the leadership of our newly reconstituted Human Relations Commission, and we faced our weaknesses as a community. We pledged to do better.
We changed our county slogan, by adding to it the last two words of our Pledge of Allegiance – For All. We aspire to be The Best Place – For All.
That means that we must respond, as a community, as leaders, and as the people’s government.
But our response must not be to the anger expressed by the people. That is the cynical act of appeasement, the age-old tactic designed to prevent change.
Our response must be to the injustice itself, to the injustices that led to this moment.
Those who are kept away from the warmth of the village fire will use that fire to burn down the village. We must share the fire’s warmth.
I heard a sermon not long ago titled, “How to Do Justice.” The pastor’s answer was simple. “Listen. Respond. Stand With.”
That is exactly what I intend to do, and that is what I am asking all county residents and their leaders to do. That’s how we can fulfill our pledge to make our piece of this planet The Best For All.
At 5pm on June 1, I am hosting an online event called “Young and Black in the Age of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and the Coronavirus Pandemic – What is Our Future?” African-American county residents below the age of 30 are asked to register at bit.ly/aacospeakingtruth to participate via Zoom, to “Speak Truth to County Executive Steuart Pittman.” The public is asked to watch and comment via Facebook Live or to watch on Anne Arundel Community Television (Channel 38 on Verizon and Channel 98 on Comcast / Broadstripe).