SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Senate President Don Harmon issued the following statement.

“Like many of you, I’ve been reeling and angry after George Floyd’s murder. I’ve been driving through the communities I represent and seeing with my own eyes what’s happened. But I’ve struggled to find the right words, and the last thing the world needs right now is yet another person with a title explaining suffering he’s never experienced.

Several of my colleagues in the Illinois Senate’s Black Caucus, however, have encouraged me to speak up, not because I have some particularly great bit of wisdom to share, but rather because members of the Black Caucus do. It is my responsibility to use this position to amplify their voices and support their efforts.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx spoke recently of the ‘casual acceptance’ of so many things that are wrong. Her powerful words should cause us all to rethink what we have too easily accepted – not just the death of another unarmed black man at the hands of police, but the system that allowed it to happen.

The COVID-19 outbreak showed the world the uncomfortable realities revealed in the disproportionate and immoral number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths put upon minority communities. It has exposed the willingness of too many of us for far too long to look away from the suffering happening in other communities.

When you take the time to write it out, the injustice is embarrassingly inescapable. But times of crisis also provide us with an opportunity to examine what our society should be.

If we are angry over the murder of George Floyd and the system that allowed it to happen, we need to be just as angry over a system that would tolerate taking years off the life expectancy of a child just because she grows up on the West Side without access to quality nutrition or health care or all the other things many of us casually take for granted every day of our lives.

These things cannot be tolerated.

The unity that we experience in times of crisis must propel us to bring about meaningful fixes. I pledge my support to making those changes.

We know our economy has been broken by this pandemic. Mr. Floyd’s murder reminds us that there is more broken in our society.

In the days ahead, we have the chance to re-invest in Illinois. Not to rebuild a broken system. Not to restore a sense of comfort to some. Rather, this is an opportunity to re-imagine what Illinois can be for all of us.

As we move forward, I am committed to listening to ideas and building partnerships to make those changes and give a voice to those who feel their voices are not being heard.

We can, we must and we will be better.”