Riverside County Third District Supervisor Chuck Washington has issued a statement in his weekly COVID-19 newsletter update about protests happening around the nation in response to the death of George Floyd during an arrest in Minnesota last Monday.
“Last week, America was shocked by a video that showed George Floyd – a father and beloved community member – dying at the hands of a police officer,” Washington wrote. “The incident was deeply troubling and unacceptable for a member of law enforcement. It also sparked protests throughout the nation and the world – many of which have been peaceful, but some of which have involved instances of violence and looting. We have the right to assemble, and we have the right to protest: we do not have the right to loot and commit acts of violence.”
Washington went on to talk about his experience as a black man in America.
“Often, I have tried to ignore subtle suggestions of racism, such as when I worked at Delta Airlines, and a woman asked me to check her baggage, despite the fact that I was wearing a captain’s uniform,” he said. “Every black man in America has those types of stories. Every day for the past 67 years, I have woken up as a black man. If we are to understand the experiences of one another – as black men, as law enforcement officers, etc. – we need to stop battling one another.”
Washington also made a similar statement during today’s meeting of the board of supervisors. In his published statement late Tuesday and during the meeting of the supervisors, he referenced a photo that read, “Not all black men are thugs or criminals. Not all police officers are racist.”
“In the past few days, I have been encouraged by pictures and videos of law enforcement officers and protestors coming together, supporting one another and hugging,” he said in the statement. “If we are to improve circumstances in America, we are going to need to talk, understand, and most importantly, listen.”
He also warned protesters that the county is still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I respect the right of everyone to peacefully protest this tragedy, but please, remember that COVID-19 is still a threat,” he wrote. “You can let your voice be heard through social media and by sending letters and emails to your elected officials. The state stay-at-home order is still in effect, so my office cannot encourage mass gatherings. However, if you attend a protest in person, please practice social distancing and wear face coverings at all times. Most importantly, remember to show kindness and love.”
Valley News has sent follow up questions to Washington’s office requesting an interview.