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Ex-Cincinnati Mayor Ken Blackwell: Leaders in our cities have a duty to do this

Ex-Cincinnati Mayor Ken Blackwell: Leaders in our cities have a duty to do this

Cities across the country are in ruin, and the fear that took root when stay-at-home orders went into effect is being compounded by violent protesters who’ve abandoned reason and justice in the wake of George Floyd’s wanton death allegedly at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.

People’s livelihoods are up in flames. Others are afraid to leave their homes and many who depend on public transportation no longer have a community pharmacy or convenience store for essentials, like food and medicine.

Rioters all but guaranteed many of the businesses in their own communities will never reopen again. Meanwhile, local leaders have a chance to stop the lawlessness instead of watching as rioters in their grief and anger destroy neighborhoods. Mayors have a duty to restore order.

President Trump has taken this matter seriously and directed the Department of Justice to conduct a civil-rights investigation into the death of George Floyd. But mayors are the ones whose leadership matters the most right now.

How they respond to the crisis is what has the power to build up or tear down public confidence. In order to build confidence in their constituents, mayors must operate on the age-old wisdom that “Without peace, justice can’t take root.”

In their anger and grief over the needless loss of George Floyd, folks cannot torch their own communities — hurt their neighbors and friends — in the name of justice. Local leaders must harness peoples’ grief and anger and channel it in a constructive direction.

Otherwise, the violent rioting could prove the final straw for businessmen and women hanging on by a thread as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and serve to undermine the very change rioters and protesters seek to effect in their communities.

Rioting is no way to honor the memory of George Floyd. As the former mayor of Cincinnati and former ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council, I witnessed first-hand the truth of Martin Luther King Jr.,’s immortal words: “The chain reaction of evil — hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars — must be broken, or we shall be plunged in the dark abyss of annihilation.”

We cannot let provocateurs and rioters co-opt our legitimate desire for justice and use it to wreak havoc on our country. This is common sense — not a “right” or “left” issue; this is about coming together as Americans and ensuring justice is done.

Those of us in positions of authority and influence have a duty to restore and unite for justice. Chaos and wanton destruction will destroy our communities. We cannot let our grief and desire for justice over the unnecessary death of George Floyd get lost in this chaos.

Frustration and anger are understandably high. What happened in Minneapolis is shocking and tragic, and George Floyd should still be with us today. The violence and destruction that followed, however, dishonor the pursuit of justice for a man widely remembered by his friends and family members as a “gentle giant."

People are losing their life’s work, the businesses they built with ...

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