To the editor: The members of the League of Women Voters of Alaska grieve the loss of George Floyd. We mourn for countless others who have perished in similar circumstances or been injured bodily and mentally by police brutality. We lament baseless accusations made by some police who assume that persons of color are suspect and by those who call the police about birdwatchers, joggers or parents simply for the color of their skin.
Our country is built on racism and stolen land, land often tilled by those enslaved. We must look honestly at this history, for without that understanding we cannot go forward. This reflection is painful if you are white. When the phrase Black Lives Matter is countered with All Lives Matter, that response ignores that throughout our history black and brown lives have mattered much less than white lives.
We face a turning point and must take the turn if democracy is to thrive. Our democracy promises all people equal rights. Talk must be backed up with action and change. A fundamental right is to be treated equally and fairly in encounters with police without fearing physical harm. To this end, the League supports meaningful reform in policing and criminal justice practices while appreciating those police who champion the rights of the people and the spirit of protest.
How do we effect positive change? We use our right to peacefully assembly to let our leaders and community know our feelings. We vote to elect leaders who enact changes moving us forward. These rights are enshrined in our Constitution. No group should determine which eligible citizens can vote easily and which must endure long lines or be blocked from voting. The League considers the right to vote and to be informed on issues facing the nation’s people and government essential. A democracy demands transparency in all its governing. The League pledges to continue its work supporting a nation of voting citizens armed with the knowledge to make choices respecting the rights of all citizens and to create a system based on justice, equality, and equity.