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Cole Statement on Tragic Death of George Floyd and Recent Demonstrations

May 31, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) issued the following statement on the tragic death of George Floyd and recent demonstrations nationwide in response to his death.

“The events of the last few days have been distressing to every American. The reprehensible treatment of George Floyd that resulted in his death is unacceptable. There should be and will be a full local, state and federal investigation of the event. Anyone who acted inappropriately and illegally should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

“An incident as horrific as this, combined with similar events in recent years, is bound to spark legitimate demonstrations by concerned Americans demanding both justice and reform. Such dissent is justified and constitutionally protected. It is the appropriate expression of outrage over this deplorable incident and others like it that are all too common.

“Unfortunately, some legitimate demonstrations have devolved into riots that have threatened the lives and property of innocent Americans of every race and ethnicity. Those riots are unacceptable and must be dealt with firmly and forcefully. Violence doesn’t solve problems. It compounds them.

“In the days ahead, we need to listen, as President Lincoln would put it, ‘to the better angels of our nature.’ We must have a constructive national dialogue about the problem of racism and the disparate treatment of citizens by law enforcement based on race. Both those things are unacceptable, but both clearly continue to occur. That simply has to end.

“But as we have that discussion, we must not allow those who would resort to violence and destruction to divide us. There is a difference between a legitimate and constitutionally protected demonstration that expresses outrage and the need for change and a riot that endangers the lives and property of every citizen. Americans of every race and ethnicity know the difference. They will honor legitimate demonstrations. But they will swiftly and rightfully condemn those who engage in violence and destruction.

“Going forward, we need to rededicate ourselves and our country to achieving the noble goal of equal treatment under the law for every American regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or position. We have come so far. But we clearly still have far to go. We should do it together, peacefully and within the law.”