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Mayor's Statement on Racial Justice and Equity

Mayor Dennis McBride issues statement regarding Wauwatosa and racial justice and equity
Post Date:06/05/2020 5:00 PM

Today I join the mayors of other American communities in condemning the inexcusable slaying of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other murders of innocent African Americans.  I add my voice and words to the statements made by leaders and ordinary citizens across the country who have spoken against violence, racism, and inhumanity.  As a nation, we can no longer remain silent and fail to lift the devastating burden that racism places on people of color.

In recent days, Wauwatosa has been the site of protests.  We welcome those protests as a legitimate expression of the rights to free speech and peaceful assembly enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  We have heard the calls for meaningful change.

Wherever we live, let us all state this clearly:  hate has no home here.  We recognize that our community’s diversity is its strength. We acknowledge the suffering of our African American neighbors and we join them in calling for nationwide reform.  There is much work to be done, locally and nationally, to ensure that people of color feel safe, supported, and heard. 

Like most American communities, Wauwatosa has a sorrowful legacy of racism, matching the American legacy of oppression that stretches back 400 years.  In recent times, we have done much to undo that legacy, but we have much more to do.  As Mayor of Wauwatosa, I apologize for our history of racism and pledge that Wauwatosa will be in the vanguard of positive change.

To that end, yesterday I asked the City's department heads to work with me to create a comprehensive plan to build on the positive efforts we are currently making and to do even more.  We have designated our Assistant City Attorney, who is also the City's Diversity & Inclusion Officer, as the point person for bringing our programs together.  To our residents of color, I ask that you contact me to discuss joining City boards,  committees, and commissions to ensure that future local decisions will be made fairly, justly, and with you, not merely on your behalf. 

We all know that political polarization interferes with our ability to help each other heal from the recent tragedies.  But prophetic voices have called us throughout the ages to rise above such conflict.  We cannot bring George Floyd, Martin Luther King, and other victims of racial violence back from their graves, but we can take action to honor their memory.  Almost 160 years ago, in a time of even greater polarization, our President called on Americans to act on nobler impulses.  To paraphrase him slightly, it is for us the living to be dedicated to the unfinished work which they who fought for freedom and justice have so nobly advanced. It is for us to be dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion, that we resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, and that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom.

We can make that happen. The arc of the moral universe is long, but we can make it bend toward justice.  We all must put our shoulders to the task.  Let us begin today, and vow not to stop until we have reached the promised land of freedom for which so many have given their lives.

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