On May 25 – just one week ago and nearly 2,000 miles away – there was a terrible incident on the streets of Minneapolis, and a 46-year-old black man suspected of a non-violent crime lost his life violently at the hands of law enforcement. Across the nation, thousands of protestors have taken to the streets to express their frustration with the injustice.
Free speech and assembly are among our most basic rights as Americans, and our ability to exercise them in peaceful protest is a hallmark of our democracy. But once protests turn violent, they become unlawful. Putting lives at risk through the willful destruction of property, broken windows, burning vehicles and looting goes beyond First Amendment rights and poses a threat to public safety, puts innocent people and businesses at risk, and cannot be tolerated in our community.
Sunday night's protests in downtown Fort Lauderdale resulted in damage to the exterior of some buildings. The Facilities Division was hard at work overnight and into the morning, cleaning up and making temporary repairs to the County government facilities that suffered damage.
Our Board of County Commissioners and County Administration are committed to keeping our community safe. On Sunday night, I issued a Local Emergency Curfew Order. The curfew was in effect Sunday from 9PM to 6AM Monday and from 9PM Monday to 6AM Tuesday. While the emergency order and curfew extends through June 7, I will be assessing the ongoing need for a curfew on a daily basis, based on credible threats of civil unrest. Some municipalities have issued their own curfews. We should all be vigilant in what we do and where we go and observe our surroundings.
Racism is deeply divisive and I am proud to say that Broward County has taken innovative and impactful steps to eliminate it in our community through programs such as Ban the Box, Civil Citation for Misdemeanors and our Dismantling Racism initiative. We established an Office of Equity and Community Investment and trained over 2,500 staff and community stakeholders over the last three years in understanding the policies and practices that perpetuate racism. Additionally, the Race Equity in Child Welfare Taskforce has resulted in a dramatic reduction in the number of children of color being removed from their families, by delivering services through an anti-racist lens. We choose to celebrate the diversity of our community, while actively working towards equity.
It is important that we make every effort to remain calm. These troubling times shall pass as members of the community come together with proactive solutions to the injustices that ultimately impact us all. Each day that we show concern, kindness and compassion to one another brings us a day closer to restoring our community's vitality.