Editorial

It’s past time to address the divisiveness in our country.

We don’t seem to care about each other as fellow Americans but only as members of a political party or specific group and it’s killing us as a whole. There are things that are just wrong, no matter what spin someone attempts to put on it.

The death of George Floyd was one of those. The Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, along with other agencies across the country, has condemned the actions that led to the man’s death.

An excerpt from the statement issued by that association on Wednesday reads:

“His death is not a police training issue but the result of a troubled culture. Over the last 30 years, many agencies have engaged in community policing efforts that, unfortunately for some agencies, have been more about transforming their image than making effective change. To build deeper, lasting transformation, agencies must build relationships with their communities that are built on trust.”

We’d like to commend our local law enforcement agencies in Rome and Floyd County for taking steps and actively working to be the types of departments we as a community can be proud of.

There’s a lot of hard work and care that goes into actively protecting a community, and a lot of stress. The odds of a police officer eventually making a mistake are pretty high. That’s not a critique. In a person’s role as a police officer they go into high stress situations and attempt to make sense out of chaos. It’s their job. Oftentimes, there are situations in which the anger meant for another person gets taken out on them — and that’s a tough thing to deal with.

There are so many times we’ve seen our local police stopping to help, not to harass. We’ve seen police in the rain changing a tire or in the hot sun talking someone through a bad day.

We’ve seen the caring and compassion in our law enforcement community — and it starts with our local leadership. That good leadership trickles all the way down to officers who patrol the streets, and it shows.

We should feel fortunate as a community.

There’s been a call to end harassment and police brutality, and that’s a valid call we should all heed. No one wins when one of our own is treated unfairly. There is no us or them. We’re all Americans and when a person is mistreated, we are all mistreated.

Arguments over semantics have been abundant. A common retort to the statement that “black lives matter” is “all lives matter” — and while they do, there is an exclusion. The statement, which sounds nice on its face, attempts to diminish the need for justice.

Equal justice under the law is a right and one we should be striving to achieve as a community and as a country.

An excerpt from a statement released this week from former U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis voiced this sentiment very well.

“I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled. The words ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand — one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values — our values as people and our values as a nation.”

The 44-year Marine Corps veteran was appalled at politicized calls for our military to be used against Americans.

“We must reject any thinking of our cities as a ‘battlespace’ that our uniformed military is called upon to ‘dominate.’ At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict — a false conflict — between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part. Keeping public order rests with civilian state and local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to them.”

We’ll end with another thanks to those who have worked hard to righteously protect and to serve as well as a closing message from Gen. Mattis.

“We can come through this trying time stronger, and with a renewed sense of purpose and respect for one another. The pandemic has shown us that it is not only our troops who are willing to offer the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of the community. Americans in hospitals, grocery stores, post offices, and elsewhere have put their lives on the line in order to serve their fellow citizens and their country. We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln’s ‘better angels,’ and listen to them, as we work to unite.”

“Only by adopting a new path — which means, in truth, returning to the original path of our founding ideals — will we again be a country admired and respected at home and abroad.”

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