Sunday, May 31, 2020

Mayor Donchez - Outrage? Yes. Violence? No.


Bethlehem Mayor Donchez has weighed in on the tragic slaying of George Floyd and its aftermath. It might be his most powerful statement in his two terms as Mayor.
 
Almost 250 years ago, Thomas Jefferson, declared, “That all men are created equal.” Our nation has had a long and difficult history dealing with those simple and profound words. Since 1776 it has taken numerous conflicts and much bloodshed for us to live up to those words. And yet, have we? Once again, we are grieving as a nation and standing together to condemn the shocking violence in Minneapolis and the innocent loss of life, and those simple words of Thomas Jefferson, somehow got lost in translation or understanding.

I grew up in South Bethlehem. The words “all men are created equal” were words to live by in my neighborhood and in my world. We were a melting pot, a cauldron of hope where there was no room for racism, bigotry, and intolerance. We had our differences – culturally, linguistically, racially and religiously, and yet we were a community. When we had to, we locked arms across the many lines and boundaries of our differences and dedicated ourselves to unity. Because of that, we were able to achieve some early measure of social and economic justice and equality for many in our community.

Those lessons of social and economic justice and equality traveled with me and were a daily part of my 35 years as a teacher at Allen High School in Allentown. I made sure my students were tolerant of all who attended Allen High School – Black and White, Latino and Asian, Gay and Straight, Male, Female and Transgender, Rich and Poor, and all who made up the city, the Lehigh Valley and the country.

As the son of a police officer and as a Mayor, watching the images from Minneapolis have been tough. I have great respect and admiration for our police officers, so it was very emotional watching that Minneapolis police officer suffocate handcuffed George Floyd with a knee to his neck. I know that almost all police officers adhere to the law and would never hurt someone like that, and yet this behavior continues and it hurts - it hurts the police and it hurts every one of us.

The kind of behavior we have seen in Minneapolis has no place in America or anywhere in the world. We in Bethlehem must condemn acts of violence and hatred, and are deeply saddened by the loss of life of a fellow human being. This is not just a race issue, this is a human issue, and we are all connected by our shared human experience.

Max Lucado wrote, “If Jesus could teach us only one thing, it would be that a person has value simply because they are a person.”

This is not the time to pretend that there’s not a problem in America.

This is not the time to turn our backs on racism.

This is not the time to accept innocent lives being taken from us.

This is not the time to think this doesn’t affect you.

This is not the time to sit back and say nothing.

This is not the time to think that you can’t be part of the solution and the change needed for this to stop.

Benjamin Franklin said, “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”

This is a time for outrage, but it is not a time for violence. The hatred that comes with racism, bigotry, and intolerance will not be condoned or supported here in Bethlehem or anywhere else for that matter. We are one. Our anger and abhorrence must be converted to something more positive – to hope, to faith and to love.

To quote Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

"very emotional watching that Minneapolis police officer suffocate handcuffed George Floyd with a knee to his neck."

Guess Donchez didn't read the autopsy results that are available.
Guess he doesn't believe in Due Process.
Sure his dad would have something other to say.
Stop rushing to judgement. However I do believe the officer acted improperly, and against training. But lets see all the video's, All the audio. The tox. report when available.
And then determine discipline/punishment. Stop slamming 2x4 over a woman's body/legs and punching her in the face because she's white and owns a business. And White men carrying American flags shouldn't be called a "Faggot" and get punched and kicked unconscious and....... So faggots are ok to assault, and white men, white women and.... Bernie, they are vandalizing Jewish property now. Hmm?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Um, the video of that police officer with his knee on the neck of a helpless and handcuffed suspect, with went on for eight minutes, was disgusting. If you don't see that, there's something wrong with you. No one has suggested the officer be lynched. He is entitled to due process and the charges will have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. As forv the violence and looting that has ensued, you apparently did not read the Mayor's statement. He expressly condemned it.


Anonymous said...

It’s only a matter of time before the violence reaches the big cities of the Lehigh Valley. After these thugs and losers see what their fellow thugs and losers have gotten away with around the country they will start here. And of course there’s no federal leadership either.

Anonymous said...

11:39 - I agree with your prediction looting and destruction remains a possibility even here in the Lehigh Valley. Yes, it is due to this behavior being openly tolerated, as shown on television in many cities. I was shocked to see coverage from the broad daylight looting yesterday in Philadelphia. One segment from helicopter cameras hovering over Aramingo Avenue covered looting over a wide area underneath the El.

Several stores were damaged and picked clean in plain, close-up view. I watched for 20 minutes. It was all very brazen with NO police visible at any time. People will pulling-up their vehicles and loading their trunks, all in clear close-up view. As the camera took wide shots there was law enforcement to be seen. Footage from another neighborhood across town showed a line of 7 police vehicles being abandoned in the middle of the street where they were damaged and looted of everything inside. No attempt to stop anyone.

Acts like these are Local and State responsibility first, not Federal. The City of Philadelphia failed its citizens in a big way. Disgusting beyond my belief. Who would want to do business or live there?

Anonymous said...

There's also no big cities here in the Lehigh Valley, you idiot.

Anonymous said...

7:21

Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton is the third largest metro area in PA.

Anonymous said...

11:10 - Yes, the Lehigh Valley Metropolitan Statistical Area is roughly 800,000 people, all living together without any obvious borders to divide them. This area is quite large. Rioting and looting is very possible here.

Anonymous said...

Unless, our Mayors and Governors get involved and stop this, Trump could invoke the Insurrection Act and use our military to put this down by any means necessary. As he should!