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Hawley: Destructive acts by small percentage of protestors detracts from overall message

Posted 27 June 2020 at 9:18 pm

Editor:

Over the course of the last three weeks, several groups of protestors have gathered across the country in the wake of George Floyd’s horrific murder, calling for justice and tranquility not only for him, but for people all across America.

Having been to some of these protests myself, I can tell you that the majority of those who have been looking to make their voices heard are doing everything that can be asked of them, from wearing masks to remaining peaceful in their protests. It’s what makes me proud to call them my neighbors, my fellow citizens. It’s made me proud to be an American.

Unfortunately, there are some fringe groups looking to take advantage of a legitimate movement for justice in the interest of sowing chaos and destruction. From mom-and-pop shops being among the victims of the looting and rioting to historical monuments and public spaces being destroyed and vandalized, law and order is falling to the wayside in many areas around the country.

I completely support any group of citizens’ right to assembly and protest, but these outliers and anarchists are certainly making it difficult for governments and people to listen to the protests and the cries that need to be heard.

I’ve always tried my best to make this country and this state the best it can be, as the Founding Fathers envisioned for us all, but I am also conscious that our history is blemished, to say the very least.

For our people to have statues dedicated to Confederate generals, to turncoats and traitors, or to symbols that represent harmful parts of history for vast demographics of people is certainly a worthwhile discussion to bring to the public forum. Voting and even boycotting institutions to see the change you want in the country can even be a positive use of civil disobedience.

But the outright destruction and vandalizing of property, like the statue of President Ulysses S. Grant, isn’t the right way to go about it. If you’re looking for change, it certainly discredits your movement. If you’re looking to cause destruction, it’s outright illegal and wrong. Our collective American history is not all positive, it’s true, and many of us will disagree on how good or bad it is overall, but our disagreements do not give us the right to cause devastation. History itself will show there are better ways to make your voice heard.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley

Batavia

(Assemblyman Hawley represents the 139th District, which consists of Genesee, Orleans and parts of Monroe County.)