Black Lives Matter

By Sen. Dave Miramant | Jun 15, 2020
Sen. Dave Miramant

My horror at the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers is shared by many in this community and across the world. On June 3, I joined a group on the Camden Village Green to condemn this murder and to call for an end to racism and the use of excessive force by police. You can watch my remarks here. While it can be easy to assume that the issues we see playing out nationwide do not affect us here in Maine, I want to share with you why I support the Black Lives Matter movement and why I’m fighting for more police accountability in our state.

In my time as a state senator, I’ve had the privilege of having my eyes opened to the racism faced by Mainers of color. Take for example the black constituents who asked me to advocate for allowing a higher tint on car windows. They were acting on their knowledge about what can happen to an innocent black person at the hands of police and in their experience they got pulled over less when police couldn’t identify their race through tinted windows. They knew that the underlying racism in this country wasn’t likely to change in their lifetime and they were looking for ways to work within the system we have to keep themselves and their families safer.

In the whitest state in the nation, we may choose to believe that racial injustice and police brutality don’t affect us. But these issues poison our communities every day, and systemic change is the only answer to systemic problems.

Since 1990, the Maine Attorney General has not once chosen to move forward with legal action against an officer who has killed a citizen. On June 11, I joined District Attorney Natasha Irving and other legislators at the State House in Augusta to call for murder charges to be brought against the police officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Gregori Jackson in Waldoboro in 2007. To me and many others, the evidence does not bear out the officer’s story of self-defense, and the Attorney General’s decision back in 2007 — and the current Attorney General’s decision as it stands today — reveal a system that protects law enforcement officers from facing the consequences of their actions.

We need much more accountability, and while we respect the efforts of the cops who do their jobs with integrity, compassion and professionalism, we must have the ability to prosecute those who decide to make their own rules and to hurt the people they are supposed to protect. Today’s police resemble an arm of the military, but this is not and should not be the role of police in our society. When police not only fail to protect every single person regardless of race, color or belief, but also to cause harm to them, a top-down reevaluation of all components of policing — from management, to training, to routine operations — is the moral imperative.

When a system allowing a uniform to shield individuals from the consequences of their deadly actions exists in a racist society, people of color suffer disproportionately. Our community demands more from our police than George Floyd and thousands of other people of color have received at the hands of those in uniform. We demand that all people be treated fairly and without excess violence — all people. We demand leadership that has zero tolerance for profiling or cruelty.

The change we need in our society will only happen when every person challenges injustice when they see it; when we all look into our hearts and minds and acknowledge the ways we are divisive and violent with those around us; when we move past our fear of differences and instead embrace our similarities; and when we make substantive policy changes to how policing occurs. Until then, the cruelty inflicted on black people like George Floyd will continue. I hope you will join me and the ever-growing chorus of voices demanding that all people hear and understand the words: Black Lives Matter.

If I can be of help to you, or if you want to share your thoughts with me, please reach out to me at David.Miramant@legislature.maine.gov or by calling (207) 287-1515.

Senator Dave Miramant represents coastal Knox County in the Maine Senate.

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