George Floyd and A Window for Justice

I have to acknowledge a truth from the start:  I speak from a place of privilege.  I see the heartache of black America, and it shakes me to my core.  But I see it from a distance, having not experienced indignities based on my race.  My commitment to my black fellow citizens is to stand with you and to fight injustice, as we continue the work to make ours a more perfect union.

For people who are white, the last few weeks have offered a window into what it might mean to be a black person in America.  Would my encounter with police, my jog down the sidewalk, or my peaceful morning of bird watching become a potential life-and-death confrontation, with a legacy of stereotypes haunting my ability to live free and exercise basic rights without fear of arrest, bodily injury, or even death?

Looking through that window into someone else’s experience is the definition of empathy.  That window is always there.  But without firsthand experience, I cannot, in spite of all of my empathy, truly feel the same fear or anger or grief as the black citizens I work for every day.  

At this moment, we also have a different kind of window available to us:  a window of opportunity.  George Floyd died in a senseless and unconscionable act of violence. But his death—and a wave of protests calling for justice—has created heartache that is opening up new possibilities.  To honor the memory of George Floyd and so many others, we must see their deaths as a call to reform and renewal.  You can read more in my statement here. 

In reflecting on the path forward, civil rights icon and Congressman John Lewis concluded, “Our work won’t be easy — nothing worth having ever is — but I strongly believe, as Dr. King once said, that while the arc of the moral universe is long, it bends toward justice.”  That arc feels long right now, but together, we can work to help bend it. 

In this moment, “justice for all” is more than our nation’s credo—it is a call to action and prayer as we work for a better tomorrow. 

In Peace, 

Phil

(photo by Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)


It’s Easier To Believe

When I talk to people or watch the news, it’s easy to sense the despair and anxiety.  Many call it a “panic,” but it’s really a mixture of so many emotions. Seeing landmarks empty or experiencing isolation at home can fill us with fear and sadness.  But I want to challenge us all to look at things from a different perspective. 

As you probably know, my Bubby was an inspiration for my campaign to serve as our Attorney General.  After giving birth to my mother in a Nazi concentration camp, she taught my mom--and later me--the importance of hope in dark times. When I asked her how she survived such unimaginable hardship, she told me simply, “It’s easier to believe.” 

That belief and hope is what we need right now. 

We are living in a time of hardship, but those empty landmarks are demonstrations of people trying to help their neighbors.  Your time social distancing might save someone else’s grandmother. This epidemic especially targets the elderly, so all those empty schools show our youngest generation helping to save their elders. 

Seen in this light, deserted landmarks are a thing of beauty because they represent us looking out for each other. 

We cannot deny the hardship and fear of these times. For those who work in food service and rely on tips to put meals on their own family tables. For those who deal with depression. For those whose age or preexisting condition makes them afraid for their lives. 

That’s why I’m so grateful that Governor Polis took quick and decisive action on testing and protective measures, and why it’s so meaningful to see many leaders in government, nonprofit, and business put Colorado’s spirit of community problem solving to work. In the Attorney General’s office, we have created a Coronavirus Task Force to confront this crisis. You can read more about our work here.

In our times of hardship, I am inspired by these words from Scripture: “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.”  All Coloradans will need to do what they can to limit the spread of this virus and support one another. It is challenging, and my heart is with every mother and father who is worried about paying the bills and every person who fears for their safety and the safety of their family. But I pray that we can stay positive and remember that “it’s easier to believe.” We can get through this together--even if we are keeping our social distance (staying six feet apart from one another). 

I will close with some lines from a poem that has been making the rounds online. Written by a monk in Ireland, it ends with thoughts on people in Italy who have chosen to sing across their balconies as they stay indoors for the greater good: 

Open the windows of your soul

And though you may not be able

to touch across the empty square,

Sing.”

Thank you for your engagement and for supporting me in serving the people of Colorado. And thank you for all the sacrifices you are making so that we can believe in—and protect—a better future. 

Phil

https://www.colorado.gov/cdphe

https://www.cdc.gov/

 


Community During the Time of Coronavirus

In Colorado, we are committed to leading the way in responding to this crisis by developing data-driven, thoughtful, creative, and responsible measures to confront an array of new challenges.  At the Attorney General’s Office, we set up a special Coronavirus Task Force in February to coordinate our response efforts. AG’s Office team members, and public servants statewide, have been working day and night—and weekends—and under new conditions (namely, working remotely) to serve the people of Colorado during this crisis.  I am more proud than ever of their service.

Our Consumer Protection team is working vigilantly to protect Coloradans from those who would spread misinformation and take advantage of others during this crisis.  Last week, we put out our first ever Consumer Alert advisory, encouraging Coloradans to be careful of scammers and to get information about the crisis from reputable sources, including the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environmentthe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the World Health Organization websites.  And when you hear of scams—whether fake cures, fraudulent charities, or phishing attempts to gain access to your personal information—please report them to Stop Fraud Colorado at 800-222-4444 or www.StopFraudColorado.gov so we can protect Coloradans from scammers and hold bad actors accountable.

This pandemic is a new challenge that will require a strong commitment from all of us to mitigate and manage the impacts of the virus.  All of our actions—in how we care for each other—will have a direct and powerful effect on how the virus plays out. While social distancing is essential for containing the virus, we must also stay more connected as a community than ever before. Take the extra few minutes to call, text, or email a friend or neighbor to let them know you are thinking about them. As Coloradans, where collaborative problem solving is core to who we are, we will get through this challenging time together.