CARSON CITY — Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak yesterday released a video message to Nevadans addressing the recent protests over the senseless killing of George Floyd and the systemic racism and injustice Black and minority communities face, which stem from generations of inequality.
Read the Governor’s scripted video remarks below or watch the video.
My fellow Nevadans,
I want to start by joining the rest of our State in extending my prayers to LVMPD Officer Mikalonis.
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to visit him at UMC. I understand his condition is stabilizing, and I hope he continues to improve. Kathy and I are praying for his recovery.
We are living in historically trying times. Over the past few months, Nevada has been faced with three major crises– the magnitude of which are either unprecedented or seismic in scope.
First, we are facing a public health crisis as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic – something that we haven’t experienced in over 100 years. It left us with incredibly difficult decision to shutdown the majority of our economy in order to save thousands of lives and protect the health of the public.
While we’ve begun our reopening, the virus still lives with us, and we continue to focus on an effective response.
Secondly, that health crisis has resulted in an unprecedented economic crisis – with record unemployment in a global recession, and a budget shortfall that will lead to more difficult decisions on how to recover.
And lastly, we are facing a crisis of faith in our criminal and social justice system. It is safe to say that we have never before been so greatly challenged over such a short period of time.
Our lives and our state will forever be changed as a result of the last 90 days.
I’ve talked a lot about the pandemic, and will be talking a lot about our economic and budget situation in the coming weeks…but today, I wanted to address Nevadans about the crisis we are facing that has emerged due to events in the last couple of weeks, but stem from generations of inequality.
In many ways, the systemic racism and injustices our Black and minority communities face can be the most difficult to discuss. They can make us all uncomfortable. It would be easier to tuck them away as so often has been done throughout history.
But that would be a disservice to our State, our communities, and all those who are raising their voices in our streets begging for acknowledgement, change, and justice, because they live with the additional fear that what should be routine or minor police encounters could end tragically.
The protests over the past few days were ignited by the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. But the anger and grief behind these protests grew out of a longer history of these incidents. The list is too long to name them all, but many of these names are recognizable to you.
The names Philando Castile, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, and Sean Bell, are all too familiar to you because over the past few years, their names have all been rallying cries as victims of police violence.
But these moments of rallying together were brief. And after each rally, we allowed ourselves to drift back to the status quo. And for each opportunity for change that we squander, more lives are lost.
George Floyd died because the officers who were arresting him did not listen to his cries that he could not breathe.
And because Mr. Floyd can no longer speak for himself, protesters across the country are speaking for him. I am asking all Nevadans to listen to our neighbors who are crying out.
In the United States our attention span for these issues is fleeting, and ebbs and flows with the news cycle.
But for communities of color, specifically African Americans, these issues persist even when the country does not focus on it.
These communities have tried for years to keep us focused on this topic, but have been criticized at every stage.
Conversations, town halls, protests, and community meetings have not much changed the national landscape of police relationships in minority communities.
And when the community united under the banner “Black Lives Matter,” they were told that all lives matter, effectively undermining their pleas.
The statement that Black Lives Matter should not be controversial. It should not be subject to debate. It should not invite any connotation that the fact that Black Lives Matter diminishes the value of any other lives.
This declaration is true in the absolute. Period.
As a white man, I cannot claim to understand what it is like to live in fear of police encounters.
But as Governor of Nevada, it is my duty to speak out on behalf of all Nevadans, but particularly those who may not otherwise have a voice that is being heard.
Here’s what I can commit to you. I will no longer be party to a system that dictates how minority communities should express their First Amendment right to protest, or their human right to grieve.
To our community and legislative leaders. Over the past few days, I’ve had the opportunity to speak to many of you individually, and we have scheduled a few group meetings as well.
I look forward to meaningful dialogue that leads to real change. I also look forward to signing legislation next session that comes from these conversations.
For those who will be out on our streets asking to be seen and heard, I thank you. Please do so safely and lawfully. We know that in at least a few instances, outside agitators have coopted your events to advance their own agendas. Know that we are aware of this.
Here in Nevada, just yesterday the US Attorney announced the arrest of 3 men who sought to undermine the protests by throwing tear gas and Molotov cocktails at police under the guise of protesters.
I want to thank the US Attorney’s Office for their diligent work so far on this case.
For those of you in Las Vegas, volunteers from our legal community will be present to observe your events.
They will be wearing red t-shirts that say LEGAL OBSERVER on them.
They can help you understand your rights, and what conduct is lawful. But as you protest, know that I see you, and I’m listening. Please be safe out there.
To our law enforcement officers, I ask that you be patient, compassionate, and sympathetic with our fellow Nevadans.
Law enforcement needs to play a critical role in helping our community heal and forging stronger partnerships with those you serve — and for those of you who have already begun this important work, thank you.
There is no doubt we have much more to do. As law enforcement officers, I call on you to weed out the bad officers who tarnish the reputation of your profession through their bad acts. And while you’re out there, please be safe.
I’m not saying this will be easy – if it was easy it would have been solved a long time ago. We have to challenge ourselves to not get defensive and to really listen.
I call on all Nevadans to seize this moment to really reflect and ask themselves, “what can we do to fully respect and understand the very deep and very real emotional harm that’s been done to our Black community members?”
For me, it will start with listening and will end with action. But it will take all of us.
Nevadans come together when we need each other most. We band together to mourn with each other, support each other, and cheer for each other.
We see the true spirit of Nevada when we came together to cry, as we did in the aftermath of 1 October. I’m calling on Nevadans to come together once again. All Nevadans.
Let’s love one another as we work through these hard times. There is no doubt that if we do that, if we do it together, we will come out stronger. Thank you.