The terrifying death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police last week has caused mass protests around the country as people express their outrage. The hideous images captured on video for all to see will have a lasting impact on America, I pray for the better.
The country is unified – regardless of skin color or political party – around the truth that Floyd’s killing and others like it are totally unacceptable in our society and we must all work together to end racially charged violence against African-Americans.
Peaceful protests are constitutionally protected and must be respected. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was correct when he taught us that nonviolent gatherings send a powerful message that change is possible. The American people are in agreement that the senseless killing of Floyd, who’s been described by his brother as a gentle giant, must be protested loudly, clearly – and peacefully.
However, violent anarchists and America haters have upended the peaceful protests to wreak havoc on our cities from coast to coast and desecrate the memory of George Floyd. They call themselves Antifa, short for “anti-fascists,” but nothing could be further from the truth. They are misusing Floyd’s tragic death to further their goals of destruction and division in America.
As we’re all finding out, if you don’t comply with the demands of these anarchists, they’ll beat you up and burn your neighborhood to the ground. Antifa doesn’t care about Floyd; they only care about chaos, destruction and overthrowing our constitutional republic in favor of a system that only allows for the deranged freedom of expression that Antifa agrees with.
In short, Antifa extremists come out of the shadows to turn peaceful protests into riots. This week President Trump showed true leadership by announcing that he was designating Antifa a terror organization.
The vast majority of Americans want this violence to stop and believe we are a compassionate nation that believes deeply in treating others how we wish to be treated, regardless of the color of our skin.
The American people deserve the facts about this terror group and the government must deliver.
The peaceful message coming from Floyd’s family in the midst of their tragedy can have a calming effect on Americans and should be used as a road map forward. We can all best respect Floyd’s legacy by working harder as a people to end racism in America once and for all. It must be a priority inside police stations as well as at family dinner tables.
There’s bipartisan agreement that there’s no place in our society for Antifa and the violence they specialize in bringing to the neighborhoods where our children live. In addition to the president’s strong actions, in 2017, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., spoke out against the “violent actions of people calling themselves Antifa.” And last year former Vice President Joe Biden condemned Antifa’s assault on a journalist by saying, “freedom of expression is fundamental to who we are as Americans, and that Andy Ngo’s attackers should be identified and investigated.”
In these times of rigid partisanship, when both political parties agree on something it’s time to take bold action. The American people deserve the facts about this terror group and the government must deliver. What is its leadership structure? How do they communicate with one another to implement their violent operations? Where do they get their tools and equipment? And perhaps most importantly, who is funding their violence?
Congress needs to conduct a thorough investigation, accompanied by public hearings, to shine a light on how these extremists conduct their business of terror. Call FBI Director Christopher Wray and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf to testify immediately about what their agencies know about Antifa. The FBI and Homeland Security Department should also prioritize shutting these rioters down so they can’t communicate or receive the funds necessary to conduct their violent operations.
It will take time for our country to heal in the wake of Floyd’s death. It will require that those responsible be brought to justice and that we all dedicate ourselves to improving as a nation.
The video of George Floyd’s life being taken away from him in the middle of the street is never going away and we must never forget it. Maybe it can help us summon “the better angels of our nature,” as Abraham Lincoln said. We can start by agreeing that what happened to Floyd should be robustly and peacefully protested and Antifa’s violence must be condemned and investigated. Those are ideals to unite around.