VP Harris on George Floyd: ‘This work is long overdue’

Following is the April 20 transcript of Vice President Kamala Harris’s speech on the Minnesota guilty verdict for Derek Chauvin, followed by relevant comments by Joe Courter, Iguana publisher

VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS: Good evening. First I want to thank the jury for their service and I want to thank Mr. Floyd’s family for your steadfastness. 

Today, we feel a sigh of relief. Still, it cannot take away the pain. A measure of justice isn’t the same as equal justice. This verdict brings us a step closer, and the fact is we still have work to do.

We still must reform the system. Last summer, together with Senator Cory Booker and Representative Karen Bass, I introduced the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. This bill would hold law enforcement accountable and help build trust between law enforcement and our communities. 

This bill is part of George Floyd’s legacy. The president and I will continue to urge the Senate to pass this legislation, not as a panacea for every problem but as a start. This work is long overdue.

America has a long history of systemic racism. Black Americans and Black men in particular have been treated throughout the course of our history as less than human. 

Black men are fathers and brothers and sons and uncles and grandfathers and friends and neighbors. Their lives must be valued in our education system, in our health care system, in our housing system, in our economic system, in our criminal justice system, in our nation. Full stop.

Because of smartphones, so many Americans have now seen the racial injustice that Black Americans have known for generations. The racial injustice that we have fought for generations. That my parents protested in the 1960s. That millions of us, Americans of every race, protested last summer.

Here’s the truth about racial injustice: It is not just a Black America problem or a people-of-color problem. It is a problem for every American. It is keeping us from fulfilling the promise of liberty and justice for all. And it is holding our nation back from realizing our full potential. We are all a part of George Floyd’s legacy. And our job now is to honor it and to honor him. Thank you.

• • •

Yeah, okay, refreshing to hear such a statement from a vice president. But this is the same person now tasked with dealing with the Central American migration crisis. These migrations are indeed caused by people fleeing corruption and violence, but when I read her words, I wonder if she will feel that same commitment to those humans seeking a better life, and more importantly, WHY they are. 

“We still must reform the system.” 

Please do look at the pattern of economic extraction from that triangle region, the so-called Washington Consensus where U.S. corporations are advantaged, military are supported in repressive action undercutting democracy, and subsistence farmers driven off their land.

“America has a long history of systemic racism.” 

Indeed, yes. But the history of U.S. malignant interference in Central America is long as well. 

Guatemala’s elected government was overthrown in 1953 to swing the doors open for United Fruit and unleashing a war on the indigenous which is still going on. 

El Salvador saw a long string of U.S. supported “death squad governments” thru the ’70s and ’80s, smashing student movements and labor organizing.

Honduras has long been under the thumb of U.S.-supported leaders, even to the 2014 U.S.-backed coup under the Obama administration and strongly blessed by Sec. of State Hillary Clinton. 

The systemic interference also hit Nicaragua going back to the 1920s and the installation of the Somoza dynasty, which was finally overthrown by the Sandinista revolution in 1979. The Sandinistas then faced actual U.S.-imposed civil war all during the ’80s, but their efforts at civilian infrastructure, while economically sanctioned and far from perfect, have at least not seen people needing to flee a broken society as their close neighbors to the North are.

“Because of smartphones, so many Americans have now seen the racial injustice that Black Americans have known for generations.” 

True. But because of a lack of historical coverage by a shallow U.S. media, the now generational repression and exploitation of the so-called triangle countries, and the true cause of the corruption and violence leading these brave and audacious migrants to journey North, remains hidden and unreported.  

Will the vice president consult scholars and historians to present a better understanding to us all, or will the systemic exploitation and interference continue? Accountability to systemic racism needs to be addressed, but so does accountability for the foreign policy practices the U.S. has perpetrated in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. As Harris said above, “This work is long overdue.”

Comments are closed.