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Del. Danica Roem Addresses What Happened in Manassas, What We Can Do to “Work for Justice, Non-Violence and Peace”

"We must elevate Black voices and deliver results on their behalf to create a more inclusive and just commonwealth and country."

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Excellent post by Del. Danica Roem (D-PW County, Manassas Park City). I strongly agree with every word she says (bolding added by me for emphasis).

I want to take a moment to address what happened in Manassas on Saturday and Sunday and what we can do as a community, commonwealth and country to work for justice, non-violence and peace…

A lot comes to mind:
1) It’s a good thing that protestors and police engaged in an open dialogue in the HD13 part of Manassas yesterday along Liberia Avenue, especially with the deputy police chief owning up to what happened Saturday. Thank you to everyone involved.

2) I don’t condone violence, including on Saturday: police spraying and launching projectiles at protesters, people throwing bricks and rocks at police and those who distract from the cause with destruction.

3) But I get the frustration of people who demand justice and nothing changes.

4) When the Black community for generations has asked local, state and federal lawmakers for help to dismantle institutions of racism and don’t get it…

If they take a knee, wear “I Can’t Breathe” shirts or say something as profound as “Black lives matter” and they’re ridiculed…

If people of color ask for help and are met with murder, violence and racism – implicitly and systemic – inflicted upon people by law enforcement and fellow citizens while people in power fan the flames of racism, rejecting justice and dehumanizing their constituents…

…then after all of that, when they’ve tried every peaceful method available to not only get their point across but to witness action and change and people in power – both in government and society – refuse to listen or, even worse, act against them, then they’re left unheard.

Whether it’s in a relationship, parenting, government, the workforce, health care, law enforcement… when someone’s not being heard, no one cares and nothing is going to change, then that can lead to protest, and if nothing changes from protest, the situation can escalate.

How much louder can someone shout than what we’ve heard nationwide for days now?

If nothing else, >>all of this<< has centered the national dialogue around structural, systematic racism that’s endured for 401 years, since the first enslaved Africans arrived at Fort Monroe.

“At least you’re not enslaved. At least things are better than Jim Crow. At least it’s better than it used to be…”

Justice isn’t “better than it used to be.”

Justice is liberation, equity and equality. It is peace.

The murder of George Floyd is the absence of all of that.

As a white woman, I will always have blind spots on issues of race. There will always be something more I can do, something more I can learn and an opportunity to use my position to help people. I will never know the lived experience of a person of color in Virginia or America.

As a trans woman, I do know what it means to be singled out and have barriers put up and designed for people like me to fail.

I do know what it’s like to ask government officials to simply not harm people like me, let alone actually do something helpful, and be soundly rejected.

I do know what it’s like to live afraid, to limit what I do & where I go so I’m not hurt, and to be the only person like me in just about every room I enter around people who maybe are or aren’t nice but have no idea what it means to live as a trans person in Virginia or America.

All of that isn’t to equate my experience with someone else’s.

It’s to empathize.

It’s to say I haven’t nor will I always get it right but I will try to make it right. If I don’t want people like me to be discriminated against, then I should help prevent injustice toward you too.

My Manassas constituents are concerned for their safety. On their behalf, I ask for an end to all forms violence, which averts attention from the message of the overwhelming majority of people demanding justice.

To the people protesting murder, violence and racism: I hear you.
The justice our people need goes beyond the domestic equivalent of a ceasefire.

It starts with accountability: successfully prosecuting the people who murdered George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.

It also means lawmakers need to meet the moment and deliver results.

To the people of the 13th District who wish to help deliver justice to tear down institutional racism: my mind and ears are open.

I’m here to listen, learn and work with you on what we can do together to create a just and equitable society: DelDRoem@house.virginia.gov.

Many of my constituents have told me actions we can take in Virginia to prevent police brutality and create a more just society.

I’ve also heard from constituents who disagree with what I said Sunday. I represent them too and understand their concerns for safety.

In sum, now is the time for a plan we can immediately begin implementing to bring justice for the Black community and people of color throughout our country.

The actions we take must be sustainable for the long haul. This takes commitment – day after day, year after year.
Lastly, to my fellow Democrats:

I hope we hear the cries and demands for justice from the Black community. Our party cannot survive without them.

We must elevate Black voices and deliver results on their behalf to create a more inclusive and just commonwealth and country.

-Danica