Herring responds to death of George Floyd and protests

AG Mark Herring_1542306465776

FILE – In this Jan. 23, 2014 file photo, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring speaks at a news conference at his office in Richmond, Va. A federal judge will hear arguments Tuesday, Feb. 4, on whether Virginia’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. Herring, the state’s newly elected Democratic attorney general, said he has already […]

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Attorney General Mark R. Herring released a statement on Sunday regarding the death of George Floyd and the escalating protests throughout Richmond.

His statement comes the same day that Governor Ralph Northam issued a state of emergency and extended the curfew for Richmond in response to the protests.

“George Floyd should still be alive, and if he had been white, he almost certainly would be. We know that the criminal justice system treats people differently based on their race — the disparities are documented and undeniable,” said Herring.

“It takes conscious, deliberate work to fix these problems and tear down the systems that created and perpetuate them, and that is where our focus must be. We need to move quickly to reassure Virginians that black lives matter in Virginia and must make a long-term commitment to invest in laws, policies, and training that will keep all Virginians safe,” he said.

Herring continued on to address the protests and destruction that has occurred throughout Richmond in the last few days.

“While peaceful protests and demonstrations can and should continue, as they are important tools of accountability and visibility, I hope we’ve seen the last of the violence and destruction that occurred in Richmond and elsewhere the last few nights,” Herring said. “It is dangerous and counterproductive, and it so quickly snatches the focus from where it should be, which is how we will come together to ensure the safety, rights, and equality of all Virginians.”

In closing, he said:

“In my conversations over the last few days, I’ve heard over and over again words like ‘tired’ and ‘exhausted.’ The weight of fear that our society places on the shoulders of African Americans is immoral and unsustainable.”

“No one can be truly free if they live in constant fear that they, their children, or their loved ones could be killed if they go out for a walk, or run an errand, or if a traffic stop takes a bad turn. I can never personally know the weight of that fear, but I recognize it, and I will do anything in my power to ease that burden and that fear.”

RELATED: Northam issues state of emergency, extended curfew for Richmond in response to protests

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