Guest View, Peter Leroe-Muñoz: One man’s death, one nation’s self-reflection

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By Peter Leroe-Muñoz

Anger. Frustration. Heartsick. Those were a few of the emotions I felt watching the video that captured the killing of George Floyd. As a former Deputy District Attorney, and a current Councilmember, I see this as a moment that calls for honest self-reflection on the part of our country that too often marginalizes African Americans and people of color.

My past work as a Deputy District Attorney was driven by a singular principal: do justice. Deciding appropriate charges to pursue, or declining to prosecute, was essential to acting fairly and ethically. In the murder of Mr. Floyd, unjust officers twisted their authority to take the life of a defenseless man. This heinous act betrayed the oath of officers who are sworn to protect and defend, and the perpetrators should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The tragic killing was another in a series of abuses aimed at communities of color.

As a Councilmember, I have seen how public service offers opportunities to build communities and assist people of all different backgrounds. Civic activism has swelled over the last weeks in response to Mr. Floyd’s death. Communities of all colors, faiths, ages and orientations have risen in honor of his memory, and the lessons revealed by his death. It has been inspiring to see. However, much peaceful activism has been met with cruel overreach and excessive force from the highest levels of our elected leaders. This moment calls for honest dialogue, not surrendering to our basest fears of one another.

Mr. Floyd’s death demands introspection: who are we as a country, and where are we failing to live up to our highest ideals of equal treatment under the law for all people? At all levels of society, we must be brave enough to speak truthfully about our past and present abuses. They are real and do harm. But they can be overcome.

We have much work to do to be our best selves as a nation. I stand in solidarity with the African American community in this moment of pain, and I support those who continue their efforts to bring equality and justice with love and peace.

Peter Leroe-Muñoz is a former Deputy District Attorney and current Gilroy City Councilmember.

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