By Tia Lynn Ivey
Madison Mayor Fred Perriman felt compelled to speak out about the tumultuous wave of civil, social and racial unrest flooding the country, resulting in scores of nationwide protests, demonstrations, riots, and police brutality last weekend.
The death of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American male, at the hands of Policeman Derek Chauvin on May 25, served as the flashpoint incident to ignite racial and social tensions, long simmering beneath America’s cultural and political landscape. The following is a message to all citizens from Mayor Perriman.
“When we make our pledge of allegiance to the American flag, the last line is ‘with liberty and justice for all.’ As we witness what is happening in our country and witness what is happened to George Floyd and others by police brutality, we cannot turn a deaf ear nor a blind eye. We cannot help but contemplate how this affects all of our communities and the hearts of mankind. As a mayor of a small city, I stand strongly with the mayors of our big cities and say that American is bigger than this. Racism cannot be swept under the table. It is real. All of us must face it and that it is time for our country and communities to come together as one and communicate on how to address these issues.
Yes, it is wrong the way black men are treated by law enforcement, but we must agree that all officers of the law are not the same. Many hurt just as we do about what is going on in this nation. Many of the young blacks and whites are peacefully marching and protesting against racism. But those who are causing damage in our streets are doing so out of frustration because they have not been taught to love in home. Most of the time we act out what we see and have seen. Am I angry? Yes. Will I burn down buildings? No.
Because just as it was wrong for that police officer to murder George Floyd, it is also wrong for people to burn down businesses. Black people should not have to live the kind of life where they are afraid to walk in a park, jog down the street, or peacefully protest just because of the color of their skin.
Now is the time for all of us to come together in prayer and ask ourselves what can we do to help change what we are facing right now. How many of us stand guilty of racism or served as an accessory to racism? How many of us are afraid to speak out? How many of us have a hidden agenda? It does not matter how much we preach love until we put love into action. Otherwise, it’s just lip-service.
To all the fathers, mothers, and families, what are you telling your sons and daughters about what is going on in this nation and in the world today? Can I stay to you, use this moment as a teaching opportunity to share with them the unvarnished truth and a message of hope that they can grow up to make a difference and help create a society that is fair and just for everybody.
I think it’s past time to tear down the wall of hate and start building the wall of love. Love conquers all. I still remember my Sunday school song: Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world. Red, Yellow, Black, and White, they are all precious in his sight. God doesn’t discriminate. We should not either. All of us can make a difference wherever we are, but that difference must begin with love…and each of us. “