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Marc Morial
Marion Wright Edelman
Marion Wright Edelman

Aisha N. Braveboy,
Prince George’s County State’s Attorney

Statement Regarding the Death of George Floyd

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (May 31, 2020)—Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha N. Braveboy released the following statement regarding the death of George Floyd at the hands of officers with the Minneapolis Police Department:

“I would like to express my most sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones of Mr. George Floyd.  My heart is broken and I am truly outraged by his brutal murder captured on video.

“I, like millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Prince Georgians, witnessed the murder of yet another black man at the hands—or in this case, the knee—of a law enforcement officer. Mr. Floyd was someone’s son, brother, best friend, and neighbor—he was a human being and he was important. Yet the officers involved acted as if his life had no value, as if he wasn’t worthy of humanity.

“At the time of his death, he was handcuffed with his arms behind his back, unarmed, and helpless on the ground; dying slowly and painfully, begging for his life, calling out for his dead mother, while he was being restrained by three officers, one with a knee on his neck and another officer cowardly observing the slow and deliberate murder of a fellow human being.

“It is clear from the video; the only thing Mr. Floyd was resisting was death. Sadly, he resisted unsuccessfully.

“The symbolism of this cruel and unconscionable act is not lost on me, like I know it is not lost on you. Historically, those with unchecked authority have stood on the necks of others without consequences. I have the privilege of knowing courageous and compassionate law enforcement officers who take their duty to protect and serve seriously and have risked their lives every day. “However, too many black men and women have been victimized, needlessly and senselessly losing their lives at the hands of police officers across the country for no other reason than the failure of rogue law enforcement officers to acknowledge the value of black lives.

“Cases like these must be handled with the public trust, and it appears that the trust has eroded as a result of misguided statements made by the local prosecutor and the reference to preliminary findings of the medical examiner included in the Criminal Complaint filed on Friday, May 29, 2020.

“Today, I am using my voice to not only call for swift justice for Mr. Floyd, but fair justice.

“I also call on Attorney General Keith Ellison to evaluate the current climate in the community, and make recommendations on how this case should be handled, and to request an independent medical examination. While the Attorney General may not have the constitutional authority to overstep the local prosecutor, he has the ability to use his position and influence to ensure that proper decisions are made in the pursuit of justice.

“The officers who participated in this murder should be brought to justice swiftly, but the prosecution must be fair, transparent and done with integrity.”

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Prince George’s County Council Adopts Fiscal Year 21 County Budget
Council Adopts Balanced $3.7 Billion General Fund Budget; Total FY 21 County Budget $4.48 Billion

By ANGELA J. ROUSON
Prince George’s County Council Media

Upper Marlboro, Md. (May 29, 2020)—The Prince George’s County Council, convening virtually on Friday, May 29, 2020, unanimously adopted a $4.48 billion total County balanced budget, including $3.7 billion in County General Funds, for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 21).  The FY 2021 County Budget becomes effective with the new Fiscal Year, which begins July 1, 2020.

The Council began its budget review process after receiving the Proposed FY 2021 Budget from County Executive Angela Alsobrooks on March 11. Following the COVID-19 outbreak, and subsequent County State of Emergency, County Executive Alsobrooks submitted an amended FY 2021 budget proposal to the Council for consideration on April 22 which included an estimated $134 million reduction in revenue and proposals for compensation changes and delays in capital projects.

Following the unanimous vote, Council Chair Todd M. Turner (D) – District 4, began his budget remarks discussing the impact of COVID-19 on County residents and the budget process. Chair Turner also thanked his colleagues and Council staff for their work to adopt a spending plan that addresses the County’s present challenges while acknowledging the critical needs of residents during uncertain economic times.

“The COVID-19 global pandemic has thrust us all into uncertain times and unknown territory, and as the substantial impacts of this crisis continue to reach into our communities, Prince George’s County faces health, safety and economic challenges of historic proportion,” adding, “A pandemic like this hasn’t happened in 100 years. It’s new for all of us, but you have been inspiring, hard-working teammates and passionate advocates for the residents we represent—you have risen to this historic challenge and excelled as leaders and colleagues.”

Overall, nearly 66% of the FY 21 Budget was appropriated for education, which includes the Board of Education; Prince George’s Community College; and the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System. The Council also reaffirmed its commitment to Prince George’s County’s immigrant community with additional funding for the Immigrant Services and Language Access (ISLA) initiative, which it started in FY 2018 to provide free legal services to eligible County residents who have been detained and are facing deportation.

The newly-adopted FY 21 spending plan does not include a tax rate increase; applies County reserve funds to fill revenue gaps this year and in the new fiscal year; offsets severe revenue erosion; addresses the immediate COVID-related needs of residents; maintains core government services; manages the impacts of the pandemic; fosters recovery; implements significant spending controls; and retains County workforce. The adopted budget also includes Federal Coronavirus Aid Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to support the growing concerns around food insecurities; business and employment support; rental and mortgage housing assistance; and COVID-related health services.

In bi-county budget action earlier this month, lawmakers from Prince George’s and Montgomery counties unanimously adopted the FY 21 Operating and Capital budgets for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC); the bi-county portion of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC); and the Washington Suburban Transit Commission (WSTC).  Both Councils approved the WSSC FY 2021 Operating Budget of $849.7 million and a Capital Budget of $606.7 million for the utility, which includes funding to replace water mains and invest in new technologies; continue upgrades to more energy efficient equipment and systems; and increase the affordability of services for ratepayers and residents.

 

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Cardin, Hoyer, Brown, Van Hollen Praise Honorary Promotion for Murdered Bowie State ROTC Student Richard Collins III

“We will continue to fight for the benefits and recognition due to Second Lieutenant Collins and his family, and will work to protect future families from such circumstances.”

WASHINGTON (May 27, 2020)—U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Congressmen Steny Hoyer and Anthony Brown today praised the Army’s decision to recognize bravery “in the face of evil” as demonstrated by Bowie State ROTC student and Second Lieutenant Richard W. Collins III, who was killed two days after his commissioning in 2017. The lawmakers were notified last Wednesday of the Secretary of the Army’s decision to grant him an honorary promotion to First Lieutenant. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has concurred with the recommendation.

“No family should have to endure the heartache felt by the Collins family since the tragic death of their son. This senseless loss was deeply disturbing. Securing for Second Lieutenant Collins the rightful recognition of the contributions he made as an ROTC student at Bowie State University and the impact he most certainly would have made during his military service was overdue. We do not know what would have been, but we do know that his memory will stand as a reminder of the duty, honor and sacrifice borne daily by our servicemen on and off the battlefield,” the lawmakers said. “We will continue to fight for the benefits and recognition due to Second Lieutenant Collins and his family, and will work to protect future families from such circumstances.”

“The Army considered the standards and criteria required for an honorary promotion and found that 2LT Collins displayed exemplary conduct in the performance of his duties commensurate with a first lieutenant. 2LT Collins’ life was tragically cut short by a murderer two days after his commissioning. 2LT Collins’ actions on May 20, 2017, exhibited character and exemplary conduct of an officer of a higher rank. In addition to standing firm in the face of evil, 2LT Collins was a model student and cadet at Bowie State University,” Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy wrote in a letter to lawmakers about the honorary promotion. “The Army appreciates 2LT Collins willingness to serve his country, and I offer my sincerest condolences to his family for the loss of their son. Given the circumstances, it is my honor to recommend 2LT Richard W. Collins III for an honorary promotion to first lieutenant.”

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Marc Morial, President and CEO National Urban League

To Be Equal: George Floyd’s Killers and the Vigilantes Who Share Their Beliefs Don’t Deserve Benefit of the Doubt

“Those who commit the murders write the reports, and hence these lasting blots upon the honor of a nation cause but a faint ripple on the outside world. They arouse no great indignation and call forth no adequate demand for justice.”

—Ida B. Wells

 

The casual brutality of a white officer’s knee squeezing the life from a helpless Black man in handcuffs, caught on a gruesome video, underlies Amy Cooper’s smug tone as she announces her intention to lodge a false police complaint against a Black man who’d inconvenienced her.

“I’m going to tell them there’s an African-American man threatening my life,” she announces as she is recorded by the man who’d simply asked her to leash her dog as required in that area of Central Park.  Unspoken, but understood, is her certainty that her word, the word of a white woman, would be accepted without question. She has no doubt about this, even as she glares directly into the camera that is documenting her lie.

Her certainty that a Black man’s guilt will be presumed, and white lies accepted, was shared by the Minneapolis police officer who taunted George Floyd while he crushed his neck beneath his knee for eight long minutes. It was shared by the officers who stood by, passively, while Floyd begged for his life and onlookers pleaded for the assault to end. Even though they knew they were being recorded, they filed a police report that was wholly refuted by video—they were that certain.

That certainty was shared by the white men who chased down Ahmaud Arbery and ruthlessly shot him in the street, claiming with no evidence that he was a burglar.

It has long been the agonizing truth that, without video evidence to the contrary, police who shoot unarmed Black people will always be given the benefit of the doubt. Some white officers—and self-appointed vigilantes—are so accustomed to the benefit of the doubt that even their knowledge of video evidence does not faze them.

Minneapolis has erupted in outrage. The primal scream of anguish—what Martin Luther King, Jr., called “the language of the unheard”—reverberates across the nation. We pray for those who have taken to the streets, that they will refrain from violence—and for the police who are responding, that they exercise restraint and de-escalate tensions.

The officers who participated in the deadly assault of George Floyd were fired within 24 hours, and shortly after the National Urban League and the Urban League of the Twin Cities demanded their names, have been identified. They are Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng.

These men no longer deserve the benefit of the doubt.  Their word can no longer be trusted. Their records—which, in the case of Chauvin and Thao, include a disturbing number of use-of-force incidents and civilian complaints—must be thoroughly

examined for evidence of the racism and inhumanity they displayed during George Floyd’s deadly

assault.

The National Urban League and the Urban League of the Twin Cities further demand:

• Arrest and criminal prosecution of the four former police officers.

• Immediate public release of all bodycam footage of the incident captured by MPD and Minneapolis Parks Police.

• Appointment of an experienced, independent expert from outside the department to investigate the conduct of the four officers.

This nation is haunted by the souls of the thousands of Black men and women whose killers never were brought to justice. We owe it to them to see justice done for George Floyd.

 

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Marian Wright Edelman

ChildWatch: Sharing Our Communal Grief and Never Losing Hope

Every day my very beautiful, brilliant, and much beloved mixed-race African friend, Maria Nhambu—who was placed in a Tanzanian orphanage in her first week of life—feeds my spirit. She is a daily trove of shared wisdom and loving support. She recently shared a poem by Heather Plett, which profoundly spoke to me during this pandemic and turbulent political time. I hope it will move you too.

 

Today I will greet Grief

When it comes:

I will meet it at the door,

I will say “Come in, old friend.

Take off your shoes.

Settle into this comfortable chair.

Make yourself at home

In this messy, humble space.”

 

I will pour tea for Grief

And I will sit with it,

Sipping slowly as we

Stare out the window at the passing clouds.

I will listen to the

Hard stories of loss

Grief wants to tell.

I will breathe deeply into the ache

Grief lays before me.

 

I won’t say much

Grief doesn’t ask for many words.

I will mostly sit in silence

And I will let the tears flow

When Grief nudges the

Tender places in me.

 

When Grief is finished speaking,

I may invite Grief

To come to the canvas with me

To feel the ooze of paint

Between our fingers.

I may also invite Grief

To walk by the river with me

So that we can watch

The water flow past.

 

I won’t ask Grief to leave,

But when Grief is ready to go,

I will open the door and bid farewell.

 

Then I will put away the teacup,

Clean the paint off my hands,

And carry on.

—By Heather Plett

In these times, we must all hold on to hope and have faith that we can and will overcome whatever faces us today and continue to build a hopeful tomorrow for ourselves and our children.

 

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