Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum’s June 5, 2020 statement on racial justice.
Dear colleagues, friends, Oregonians —
The killing of George Floyd and other Black citizens, including Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, are profoundly tragic and heartbreaking.
For Black people and many others, Mr. Floyd’s killing is another chilling manifestation of the many daily dangers of being Black in America.
It also shows us clearly and plainly that deep-seated racism continues at the root of so much pain and ugliness in our society, including the denial of fundamental human and civil rights for our fellow Black Americans, whether in the streets of Minneapolis or as evidenced by the disparities inflicted by COVID-19.
This week, I have been contacted by constituents, local government leaders, and community leaders from cultures of color. I have been asked, “What are we doing to ensure that what happened in Minnesota does not happen in Oregon?”
My first reaction is to point to our progressive laws — some of which I had a hand in crafting and promoting: Our anti-profiling statutes that require ongoing training of law enforcement — and our bias crime statutes that promote justice and increase support for victims from oppressed communities. But it is abundantly clear that this is not enough—there is so much more that must be done.
That’s why the three recommendations made earlier this week by the People of Color Caucus at the legislature are timely and important. One of these recommendations calls for the Oregon Department of Justice to have a role in investigating any death or serious injury at the hands of local law enforcement. I look forward to supporting the POC Caucus as they fashion their proposals into effective legislation.
We must dismantle racism. Doing so requires looking at our systems from every angle. Dismantling racism demands thoroughly listening to those voices and issues that make us uncomfortable. Dismantling racism mandates acknowledging that the answers haven’t been found, the solutions haven’t been enacted, that many promises have turned up empty. Dismantling racism necessitates inviting new voices to the table. Our people are telling us that it is time to listen. And time to hear.
As Attorney General, I am humbled to have been entrusted by you with a central role in addressing Oregonians’ concerns. I intend to do my level best, and I want you to understand: I hear you. So I ask today: “How can I best be your ally? How can I elevate your voice? How can I serve you in the ways that you need?”
The difficult and uncomfortable reality is that what happened in Minneapolis, Minnesota, could happen — and does happen — in any city, in any state across America.
As Michael Jordan said this week, “I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of color in our country. We have had enough.”
For my part, I am proud of the thousands of Oregonians who have protested and continue to peacefully protest the senseless deaths of Black men and women across America for nothing but their status as being Black.
I am outraged, I am deeply saddened, and I am listening. I stand with you, committed to the great fight against racism and discrimination in all ways, and in all places that it resides in our country.
And as a lawyer I stand with the Oregon Chapter of the National Bar Association, who proclaimed: “All lives do not matter until Black Lives Matter.”
ELLEN F. ROSENBLUM