I share in the outrage, anger and sadness at the senseless killing of George Floyd – and the many others before him – at the hands of law enforcement. Years of racial injustice, neglected communities and a lack of accountability for abuses in our criminal justice system have brought our communities to the breaking point.
As we work to heal the deep divisions among us and repair and restore our broken communities, I will be looking to our black leaders – starting with the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus – for guidance and direction as to legislative steps which can be taken now to address racial inequity, including further action in the area of criminal justice reform, police accountability and economic empowerment.
In addition to the systemic inequities in our criminal justice system, communities of color have been hit hardest by the public health crisis of COVID-19 and the resulting economic devastation, which has been exacerbated by the civil unrest, looting and violence. The impact of decades of chronic disinvestment in black and brown communities has been illuminated and amplified both with regard to economic inequity and the massive public health disparities we are watching play out due to COVID-19.
All these issues are intertwined, and for long term and lasting change, they must be addressed in a systemic way. In order to move forward, we need to be willing to listen and learn. Many people, me included, have been having conversations about race on a different and deeper level than ever before. It is critical this dialogue continue, as systemic racism cannot be addressed via legislation alone – as one of my colleagues said recently, change can only happen if people open their hearts and minds open to the possibilities.
I am committed to working closely with Mayor Lightfoot, Governor Pritzker and all my colleagues in the Legislative Black Caucus to bring about that long overdue change and ensure equality and justice for all our communities.