Senator Berthel Releases Statement Regarding George Floyd and Ongoing Protests

June 4, 2020

“The death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer is inexcusable at every level. It is heartbreaking and unacceptable that we continue to see incidents of excessive force by police officers leading to the death of Black men and women across our country. Perhaps just as frustrating is the fact that we also come to learn that in some situations these officers have had a documented history of excessive force or other red flags.

As a former Emergency Medical Services employee, who responded to 9-1-1 calls in Waterbury, Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven, I hold the work of all public safety personnel (Fire, Police and Ambulance) in great esteem and I can tell you that officers involved in these heinous and criminal acts do not belong in a law enforcement agency. They do not reflect the great majority of men and women who take very seriously their oaths to serve and protect individuals of all races and backgrounds. And sadly, the actions of these few tarnish the good work of the many. It is imperative that the upstanding men and women of law enforcement take a stand against these acts no matter when or where they happen. Officers, unions, and administrations need to hold one another accountable.

This week I am saddened to see well-meaning protests become hijacked by those who desire to cause mayhem, to commit crimes and to harm people, instead of honoring the life of George Floyd and fighting for change that is long overdue for many communities. People are hurting and they have the absolute right to protest against injustice. Our great nation has been built on the promise, and the right, that individuals have the freedom to march, to call for change, and to protest in a safe, law abiding manner. When this is abused by people who choose instead to loot businesses, destroy property and to riot, this becomes fundamentally un-American. I stand with those who choose to protest, to be heard, but I condemn those who are intentionally trying to tear apart our communities, our cities, under the disguise of a protest.

In 2019, Connecticut took meaningful steps to address use of force and accountability through the passage and signing into law of Senate Bill 380; I was proud to support and co-sponsor this important legislation. While that bill was important, there must be an ongoing conversation and meaningful efforts must continue.

I believe in this great country and the American dream – there is no better place anywhere. Respect not racism; brotherhood not brutality; one Nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. Our parents and grandparents fought for this country; our children and our grandchildren need us to come together as a nation of compassion and laws, and they need us to act now.”