Chauvin trial

In an opinion column in the April 28 edition of the Leavenworth Echo, Pastor Smith questioned the verdict of Derek Chauvin, saying it was a sham verdict; the result of “mob rule.” It was, according to Pastor Smith, a de facto unjust trial. I would like to provide a different perspective. 
To say the verdict was a sham is to say the jurors could not make a determination based on testimony, evidence, facts and logic. Questioning jury actions and criticizing a process in which we aren’t included can lead us down a path that isn’t based on facts. His perspective, like mine, is limited to information from the media and our own biases. As leaders, we have an obligation to be opinion makers and a responsibility to carefully think through such opinions. I urge readers, especially those who have benefited from the privilege of not being a person of color, to educate themselves about why the Black Lives Matter movement is important and why shallow opinions may display blatant disregard for the experience of people of color and the atrocities and injustice that they have historically experienced and are still experiencing today. 
Through his opinion piece, Pastor Smith implies justice would have been served had there been no video evidence, no outpouring of rage, no public demand for something to change. Would this have kept our judicial, executive, and legislative institutions intact and free from breakdown? I think not. Instead of exposing a breakdown of our institutions, I see the verdict giving hope for a long-overdue redemption of the systems which have been and still are unfair to people of color. 
In order to redeem our systems, we have to lead with our actions and opinions. And leading requires constant education. Our own Robin Diangelo’s White Fragility is a good place to start. Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow is also a great first read.  For a shorter, but no less important read, the parable of the Good Samaritan in the Bible, Gospel of Luke, Chapter 10:25-37 - a story that shows God’s love crosses all ethnic boundaries and reveals the hero of the story is a Samaritan, someone who was looked down upon by the Jewish people in Jesus’ day. This story should challenge all of us to break down the walls we build up to exclude or treat differently others “not like us.”   
How is this topic relevant to my role in the Leavenworth community? As a private citizen and as the Mayor, I lead. I embrace inclusion, acceptance, tolerance, and solidarity. I urge other leaders to continue to do the hard work of rooting out systemic racism. For the good of all and justice for all!
Carl Florea
Mayor of Leavenworth

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