It’s on all of us

Violent people in Charlotte disrupted a peaceful protest. Quit calling those people protesters. Doing so delegitimizes the reason for the protest, which is something we must discuss and deal with and, yes, protest.

I’m here today at the Wake County First Responders Appreciation Breakfast. We are hearing stories of Sheriff deputies that pulled intoxicated drivers out of burning cars, police officers that talked psychologically suffering people off ledges, and EMS personnel saving the life of a prematurely born infant.

All of these duties came because society is not meeting its responsibilities. We are not meeting our responsibilities to enable treatment of the mentally ill. We are not dealing with the problem of substance use disorder, and we are not providing adequate prenatal care. And, most importantly, we are not confronting the problem of institutional racism, leaving our police officers as sometimes the only point of interaction between “the system” and those it leaves behind. That’s not fair to the officers, and it does nothing to fix the issue or confront the challenge posed by institutional racism.

Dealing with this issue is on all of us. People are dying because we don’t know how to discuss the problems, and many of us in government find it easier to focus on other things.

Work with each other. Talk to each other. We will get through this.

Wake County stands with the people of Charlotte.

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