Governor Kitzhaber Reflects on Ferguson
John A. Kitzhaber, M.D.

November 25, 2014

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Governor Kitzhaber Reflects on Ferguson


(Salem, OR) — Governor Kitzhaber released the following statement:

"The verdict rendered by the Grand Jury in Ferguson, Missouri has sparked anger and frustration across our nation. But it is in these moments of palpable response to years of injustice that I speak to you as a father of a son in America.

All parents, regardless of race, class, culture or origin, should feel the unshakeable confidence that when they send their children into the streets, they will return home safe and sound.

The pain and suffering experienced by Michael Brown’s mother ring true for all parents when she said that this is about the loss of a child, a loss that came at the hands of “…people who are paid to protect them.” These simple words are not just about black or white. Nor are they about criticizing the police officers who have pledged to protect and serve.

These words are about our collective responsibility to ensure that our children are free from suffering the pain of bullying, of stereotyping, of racial profiling and any other behavior that ends their possibilities before they begin. These words are about making sure law enforcement has the training, skills, tools and support necessary to do their jobs safely…both for themselves and the communities they are entrusted with protecting.

Most importantly, her words are about creating an expectation that bias against anyone — regardless of whether it is from institutions or individuals—will not be tolerated.

Forty-six years ago on April 4, 1968 – the day that Martin Luther King was assassinated — Robert Kennedy spoke in Indianapolis, and said:

 “What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.”

Let us take from the tragedy in Ferguson, Missouri a lesson that we have failed to learn over the past 50 years.  This is also a collective tragedy that should — and must – wake us up to the indisputable fact that that we have a long way to go in terms of in addressing the underlying disparities and inequities in our society. 

This tragic loss of another son’s life, reinforces the fact that many communities are justifiably frustrated and mistrusting of our systems. The people who are marching in Ferguson and across the country are calling for immediate action. This is an opportunity for us to change how we talk about race and inequality in our communities. Now is the chance for us to commit ourselves to ensuring that we are all working toward a system that creates justice for all."