Statement of Assemblyman Steve Otis

It has been six years since Eric Garner’s last words, “I can’t breathe.” traveled the world in what should have been a message to everyone about police procedures, race and the unnecessary use of force. Why was that lesson not learned by everyone, everywhere?

The pain our nation faces is compounded by the double standard carried out in this country today. Peaceful protesters were assaulted and tear-gassed this week. A few weeks ago openly armed protesters in Michigan were treated with respect.

It has been 29 years since Rodney King was beaten in Los Angeles.  I do believe many in law enforcement did learn from that lesson, but the difference between many and all is the difference between appropriate law enforcement and tragedy after tragedy across this country.

This moment in time cannot pass without action, not only to correct practices in law enforcement but also to respond to the unequal treatment based upon race that exists in education, health care, housing and our economy. In New York, state government will respond.

What we lack today is presidential leadership to calm and heal a nation in need of such a voice. Practically any president in any of our lifetimes would have risen to the occasion. At this time in history, it is up to each of us.