HERE are excerpts from recent editorials in Virginia newspapers about demonstrations to stop police brutality:
Richmond Times–Dispatch: Acknowledge the pain
The ongoing protests in Richmond underscore the anger and hurt that many in our community feel over the lingering, open sore of racism and the series of deaths nationwide of African Americans by police. That brutality has no place in our nation.
The protests should be handled on the state level, not national. Monday night, President Donald Trump announced the mobilization of “thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers” to quell “lawlessness” across the country if governors did not use the National Guard to shut down the protests. That is the wrong approach. Imposing national martial law isn’t the answer. Strong state and local leadership is.
Northam, in his first public appearance Tuesday since the protests began, didn’t blantantly condemn the wanton destruction caused by rioting. He spoke of how our country “is in a moment of turmoil, and we have to talk about it.”
Racism and discrimination, he said, “aren’t locked in the past.” They didn’t disappear with the Civil Rights Act but rather evolved into different, pernicious forms. He spoke of wanting to meet with police chiefs, holding a statewide day of prayer and an equity audit of the state code that would focus on criminal justice and public safety.
Our leaders talk about listening. Protesters want to be heard. We all need to open our hearts to the pain caused by racism. But everyone needs to acknowledge unpeaceful protests that harm communities.
Charlottesville Daily Progress: Marchers show restraint, passion
Charlottesville has been partially immunized against such mindless violence by the work of many sincere and compassionate people over the years. Among their efforts was the Dialogue on Race project, which sought to give residents from all walks of life a chance to talk face-to-face about the reality of racism and to reach a clearer understanding of one another as neighbors and fellow citizens.
There have been more specific directives as well, such as city-backed efforts to track police encounters with African Americans and determine whether those encounters were fairly handled. (A difference of opinion exists on whether that effort is fulfilling its goal, but inarguably the intention was a positive one.)
So far, nothing has occurred that has triggered the trip-wire that would launch us into violence—although violence was visited upon us in August 2017 by malevolent outsiders. Even then, with one of our own dead in the street and many others injured, we did not return evil with evil.
This past weekend, Charlottesville marchers rightfully made their point without violence. The community is grateful—and impressed.
They made their point with the eloquence of their voices. They made their point with the force of their numbers—four blocks’ worth of marchers and supporters in cars, perhaps a thousand strong. They made their point with the righteousness of their cause.
They made their point. How will we respond?
Roanoke Times: Where are better angels of our nature?
In the spring of 1861, Abraham Lincoln addressed a nation that was so bitterly divided it was, quite literally, breaking apart.
He used his inaugural address to appeal to “the better angels of our nature.”
We are in dire need of better angels at the moment, and they are hard to find. In a more perfect world, the president would say some soothing words and appeal for calm, but that is not President Trump’s way. He did not cause the problems that now afflict us—some of the grievances being voiced are ones that go back centuries—but he had certainly exacerbated the nation’s social tensions long before a Minneapolis police officer put his knee to the neck of George Floyd. His response since then hasn’t helped either. This president is either unwilling or unable to make that Lincolnesque appeal to our “better angels.” We knew that already, though, because three summers ago we saw his response to white supremacists marching in Charlottesville. Americans will have to decide in November whether that’s the kind of president we want, but November right now seems a long way off.
Virginian Pilot: Make black lives matter in Virginia
It is imperative that every community take a thorough, independent and sober assessment of their law enforcement agencies to root out racial bias in policing and to forge stronger, mutually beneficial relationships with the minorities communities they serve.
Words are not sufficient. This has to be a sincere process of legitimate reform, affecting fundamental change rather than papering over the problems and hoping it will be sufficient to quell the public’s anger.
No, this is the time for courage. This is a time for action.
And Virginia, due to its history and perhaps in spite of it, should play a pivotal role in these efforts.