McConnell: Unity and Mutual Respect Will Keep Us Strong

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding peaceful protests and law enforcement:

“Across our nation, the past few days have seemed to mark a turn for the better.

“On Friday morning, new data showed that the economic fallout from this pandemic may have bottomed out and begun to turn around weeks earlier than had been predicted.

“Instead of losing millions more jobs in the month of May, our nation had already begun adding back millions of jobs. Lock-downs are easing. Businesses are re-opening.

“The greatest country in world history is coming back online. And our citizens are getting their jobs back by the millions.

“Now, there’s no question our national comeback is just beginning. The coronavirus is still with us. We have a long way to go to rebuild and recover from the historic layoffs this past spring.

“But already, even in these early days of our careful reopening, the American people are trouncing the predictions and starting to come back strong.

“What’s more, this weekend saw millions of Americans once again take to streets and town squares to protest the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other black Americans at the hands of law enforcement.

“But unlike what our nation faced about a week ago, this weekend’s demonstrations seem to have been almost entirely peaceful. No more rampant looting. No more police precincts set on fire. By and large, just peaceful protests in our great American tradition.

“In my home state of Kentucky, in Louisville, just like around the nation, hundreds gathered to remember Breonna Taylor on what would have been her 27th birthday and continue to call for answers.

“In Lexington, a moment of silence was held at an historic former slave market. Then a group marched to police headquarters. Police officers including the Chief came out and met them in civil discourse.

“And while a lot of ink has been spilled recently about our big cities, we cannot miss that this moment is echoing throughout small-town America as well.

“It was the same story in Benton… in Danville… in Morehead… all around the Commonwealth and all around the country. Our country has remembered that peace and protest can – and must – co-exist.

“The vast majority of the men and women in law enforcement across our country are not evil, are not racist, do not wake up every morning looking for violence. We are reminded of their bravery every time a citizen needs to dial 9-1-1 and they rush towards danger.

“And we were all reminded again this past weekend, as these professionals bravely kept watch over demonstrations — including ones where they themselves have been called racist or evil or denigrated in the worst ways because of their uniform and their badge.

“If peaceful protesters rightly do not want to be lumped in with a subset of looters and rioters who seek destruction, then the vast majority of brave police officers cannot be lumped in with the very worst examples of heinous behavior. It is that simple.

“But instead, we are already seeing outlandish calls to “Defund the police!” or “Abolish the police!” take root within the left-wing leadership class. The President of the City Council in Minneapolis has proclaimed she can “imagine a future without police.” One of her fellow council members put it even more clearly: “This council is going to dismantle this police department.” End quote.

“To be clear what this effort is about, one of the local groups informing this push in Minnesota has literally stated that “arts programs” and “mental health resources” will be more effective at stopping crime than armed cops.

“Instead of, quote, “strangers armed with guns,” they say other professionals like “social workers” should be the ones to, quote, “respond to crises in our community.”

I’m all for social work and mental health. But — call me old-fashioned — I think you may actually want a police officer to stop a criminal and arrest him before we try to work through his feelings.

”Well, even if some left-wing leaders fall for this nonsense, I have a feeling the American people are too smart for this.

“They know that what happened to George Floyd is totally abhorrent. They also know that riots and looting are unacceptable. And they also know that well-trained law enforcement officers are an important part of creating safe communities, not something to defund or abolish.

“So I’m proud that Americans across our country can protest in safety and peace. I’m proud that their neighbors continue to answer the call to protect and serve. And I’m hopeful that with unity and mutual respect, we can continue this important national discussion to ensure justice and equal protection under the law.”

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