Weekly Column

Like so many Nebraskans, I am horrified by the tragedy in Minneapolis, the killing of George Floyd — and I am angry. I am also saddened that so many of our citizens still lead lives of terror and trepidation based on the color of their skin, despite decades of hard fought change. That fear must end. It starts with each of us softening our own hearts, opening our minds, and listening to different voices. 

We have the constitutional right to peacefully assemble and express our thoughts and opinions. That’s the very crux of our freedom as Americans, and that is what many demonstrators are seeking to do. Sadly, too many of these protests have been hijacked by others seeking to disrupt and destroy. Many peaceful demonstrations turned into senseless acts of violence and vandalism. We do not have the right to riot, to inflict injury on others or to destroy the property and livelihood of our neighbors. 

Violence and looting do not honor the memory of George Floyd or advance the great cause of racial equality in this nation. 

As Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said, “This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. This is chaos.”

The United States is facing a health pandemic and a struggling economy. Forty million Americans are out of work. Families are under stress and are suffering. We see civil unrest and we are facing tremendous uncertainty. I have heard from so many Nebraskans telling me their fears — I share them all.

Despite these overwhelming challenges, we remain a strong state, a great nation, and a resilient people. Let us begin to heal our communities through individual acts of kindness. And let us humbly pray to God for wisdom.

Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.