Statement from Rep. Keith Wheeler

The murder of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer while he was already in custody is disturbing and sickening to me and demands full justice and accountability.  Charging all of the officers on scene and upgrading the charges against Derek Chauvin were the first steps to justice.

The outrage that followed Floyd’s murder sparked important dialog that includes protests covered on live television and social media as well as quiet conversations between neighbors, colleagues, and family members.  I reject the violence that followed some of the protests and emphasize that further violence only slows the progress toward reform.  I am grateful for the outpouring of support for the Floyd family and for everyone in America who feels fear when it comes to dealing with law enforcement personnel.

Over the last two weeks, I have done my best to listen in order to improve my understanding.  That has included conversations in my neighborhood and with family members along with mayors, local elected officials, law enforcement personnel and my fellow legislators from both sides of the aisle.  I am especially grateful for conversations with friends of mine that are leaders in the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus.  As I have on many issues in the past, I made a heartfelt commitment to work alongside them and collaborate toward a solution that helps and benefits the people we all care about.

The coming weeks bring further opportunity to collaborate with advocates and legislators across the state.  I have committed to participate in several discussion groups that will address issues from police accountability and reform to economic development in African-American communities throughout Illinois.  At the heart of each discussion will be the point that is being made from coast-to-coast and around the world:  every black life matters.  From my neighbors to my family members to complete strangers, my message to you is clear: you matter to me, I want to help, your voice is important, I am listening.