Political notebook: Local congressmen call for ‘swift justice’

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 1, 2020

Rowan County’s members of the U.S. House last week reacted to the killing of George Floyd by saying they support an expedited federal investigation into the incident and “swift justice.”

The death of Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck until he stopped breathing, has prompted protests across the nation, in cities as small as Salisbury and the nation’s largest — New York City. The police officer who was seen on a viral video pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck has since been arrested on murder charges.

In an emailed statement last week, Rep. Ted Budd, a Republican whose 13th District includes the city of Salisbury and parts of Rowan County, said it’s important to recognize some fundamental truths as events unfold.

“Our justice system should ensure that no one is above the law, including police officers,” Budd said. “The overwhelming majority of cops are men and women of the highest caliber, but when an officer engages in criminal conduct, justice must be pursued. I support President Trump and Attorney General Barr’s decision to expedite an investigation into this incident.”

Budd said peaceful protesting is every American’s right, but rioting is never acceptable and “undermines any kind of healing that needs to occur.”

“More violence will never solve these problems,” he said.

Floyd was born in Fayetteville, and in a short statement Rep. Richard Hudson, a Republican whose 8th district includes parts of the city, said he was sickened and angry watching the viral video of Floyd’s death.

“We demand swift justice in this case and ask that you join Renee (Hudson’s wife) and me in keeping his family in our prayers,” said Hudson, whose 8th district also includes much of Rowan County.

Governor asks for peaceful protests

In two separate statements posted online, Gov. Roy Cooper said it was frustrating that planned peaceful protest had turned into something else and that it’s time to have difficult conversations about race.

A limited number of the crowds who gathered in some of the state’s larger cities, including Raleigh and Charlotte, turned peaceful protests violent. In Raleigh, more than 1,000 people marched peacefully but tension grew after nightfall, the Associated Press reported. In Charlotte, Mayor Vi Lyles and county commissioners Chairman George Dunlap declared a state of emergency after some demonstrators damaged a police car, broke windows at a police substation and caused other damage, the Charlotte Observer reported.

“Frustrating that planned peaceful protests about real systemic racism are marred,” Cooper wrote online. “I am grateful for those seeking justice peacefully.”

In an earlier post, Cooper said that protests around the country offer a space for people to make their voices heard, but they must happen without violence. Cooper said Floyd and many others should be alive right now.

“It’s time we have the difficult conversations needed to stamp out racism and end these unjust killings,” Cooper wrote.

House speaker urges governor to call National Guard

While recording Raleigh protests Saturday night, N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore said that Cooper should deploy the National Guard.

“The senseless destruction of businesses and property must be stopped at once,” Moore said. “I am calling on Governor Cooper to immediately send in the National Guard. As I am posting this I literally am hearing semiautomatic gunfire, hearing glass windows being smashed and shouts from rioters. Unbelievable this has not been stopped.”

A news release said Moore also sent the governor a text message urging him to deploy the National Guard in downtown Raleigh.

Moore is a Republican from Cleveland County.

Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander supports peaceful protests

Mayor Karen Alexander joined other mayors across the state to deem the death of George Floyd “an act of unspeakable violence, cold inhumanity and racism.”

“As a society, we cannot tolerate this kind of police violence rooted in systemic racism,” the statement said. “As mayors, we work closely with the police leadership in our cities, and we know that they also will not tolerate this kind of police violence and racism within their forces.”

The mayors’ statement also expressed support for the peaceful protesting of Floyd’s death and a commitment to fight systemic racism within police forces, cities and the nation.