Former President Jimmy Carter labeled police and the U.S. justice system “racially discriminatory” on Wednesday in a statement addressing recent riots that have rocked the country.
The death of George Floyd, a black man, in Minnesota on May 25 sparked protests that have spread to the largest cities across the country. Floyd died after a Minneapolis police officer held his knee on Floyd’s neck for roughly nine minutes. The incident was caught on video that was spread over social media.
The protests have largely been hijacked with violent rioters and far-left activists from the decentralized group known as Antifa. Thousands of rioters and looters have pillaged and burned numerous businesses in Los Angeles, Seattle, Minneapolis, New York City, Washington, D.C., and other cities. Nearly half of U.S. governors activated National Guard units in response to the wave of violence and lawlessness.
Carter said that the violence, “whether spontaneous or consciously incited, is not a solution” and asserted that the “bonds of our common humanity must overcome the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices.”
The former president went on to blame a “racially discriminatory police and justice system, immoral economic disparities between whites and blacks, and government actions that undermine our unified democracy” for the unrest.
Read Carter’s complete statement below:
Rosalynn and I are pained by the tragic racial injustices and consequent backlash across our nation in recent weeks. Our hearts are with the victims’ families and all who feel hopeless in the face of pervasive racial discrimination and outright cruelty. We all must shine a spotlight on the immorality of racial discrimination. But violence, whether spontaneous or consciously incited, is not a solution.
As a white male of the South, I know all too well the impact of segregation and injustice to African Americans. As a politician, I felt a responsibility to bring equity to my state and our country. In my 1971 inaugural address as Georgia’s governor, I said: “The time for racial discrimination is over.” With great sorrow and disappointment, I repeat those words today, nearly five decades later. Dehumanizing people debases us all; humanity is beautifully and almost infinitely diverse. The bonds of our common humanity must overcome the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices.
Since leaving the White House in 1981, Rosalynn and I have strived to advance human rights in countries around the world. In this quest, we have seen that silence can be as deadly as violence. People of power, privilege, and moral conscience must stand up and say “no more” to a racially discriminatory police and justice system, immoral economic disparities between whites and blacks, and government actions that undermine our unified democracy. We are responsible for creating a world of peace and equality for ourselves and future generations.
We need a government as good as its people, and we are better than this.
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