Adam's Comments To NAACP’s Peekskill Chapter Protest & Dialogue

250 years after the unrealized promise of the Declaration of Independence;

150 years after the end of slavery, “its badges,” and the amendments we passed in a failed attempt to move past our nation’s original sin;

50 years after MLK awoke our consciousness and moral imagination by helping all Americans see the “sweltering heat” of racial injustice:

We see today as clearly as ever that we have so much further to go to realize the unmet vision of our constitution.

Thank you to Peekskill’s NAACP Chapter for convening a thoughtful and uplifting protest and constructive dialog today. I was honored to participate.

Full Transcript of Comments:

It’s been clear for too long. We’ve been hearing, Oh, you know, it was just a a mistake. Oh, it was a panic. Oh, somebody was running one way and somebody made the wrong split second decision. I think we saw with George Floyd, I think we saw with Ahmaud Arbary. I think we saw with Mr. Cooper who narrowly escaped the same thing in central park last week, that these are not mistakes, that we have a culture.
 
We’ve talked, as Martin said, it’s been how many years? 150 years since the end of slavery, and we used to talk, I learned in law school about the badges of slavery and the 13th amendment and the 14th Amendment and the constitutional changes that we made in the law that never reached the people that we never got justice, that the union troops left the South, and another hundred years went by until 1970 for black folks to be able to vote and  exercise their rights in half of this country.
 
And so today here we are and we need to say, and we see here, we all unite and we understand that injustice anywhere injustice to a black man in Minnesota is a threat to justice everywhere. It’s a threat to a white person in Peekskill. It’s a threat to everyone everywhere. Here we are. We’re standing and we’re saying together that we’re not going to tolerate that and we’re going to call out what it is.
 
When we see a man looking like he could have been on his iPhone or sipping a cup of coffee, extinguish the light of another person underneath his knee, not even bat an eyelash. Three of his colleagues sworn to uphold the constitution and do justice and protect our people looking around like it’s a nice day.
 
That can’t happen. Yeah, so I’m proud that we’ve said today we’re not going to tolerate that, that we are going to say we are mad and we’re not going to take it anymore, but we’re going to do it in a constructive way. We’re going to get together and we’re going to call on our law enforcement to charge that man with murder.
 
There’s some young folks I’ve met in my campaign. I haven’t met all of you. You know what you’re all doing here is exactly what we needed to be doing because nothing’s going to change if we just say, stay from the outside and say, we don’t like this. We don’t like this. That’s the first step, but it’s not the last step.
 
We know we’re going to have justice when we have people like my mentor and my hero, Lawrence Middleton, when I was a prosecutor in the US Attorney’s office who prosecuted the police who beat Rodney King, that’s my mentor and my hero, a black man who grew up in the South under the the sweltering injustice as they say, racism in Norfolk, Virginia.
 
You went to Los Angeles, and he prosecuted the officers who beat Rodney King, and he made a difference. He became a lawyer and he stood for justice and he said, justice counts for everybody in this country. Justice doesn’t count just for one race or one group of people.
 
It counts for everybody. And that was who my boss was, and that’s who I learned from. And I have so much hope that there are people here today that can follow in his footsteps and lead us to the country that we deserve. And the promise, the unmet promises of the Constitution is that Joe Biden said last week, you know, for a lot of time in America, you’ve never lived up to the promise of our founders and our
constitution.
 
Let’s be honest, by the way, a lot of them didn’t mean it when they said it.
Thomas Jefferson didn’t mean it when he said, all men are created equal. He meant his kind of men were created equal. But now here we are and we’re ready to redeem that promise of and make those words mean something and that’s why we’re all here together today. So thank you very much.
 
Let’s make our constitution mean something here. Mean justice, mean freedom, mean equal opportunity for everybody in this country. Thank you.