California Gov. Gavin Newsom Sends Message of Solidarity to Protesters: "You Are Right to Feel Wronged"

Courtesy of Governor Gavin Newsom

During a Monday press conference, Newsom discussed the ongoing protests taking place across the nation following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, stressing that he, along with other leaders, has to "do better."

As tensions rise amid the ongoing protests taking place across the nation following the May 25 death of George Floyd, California Gov. Gavin Newsom addressed protesters during a Monday press conference in which he emphasized that he, along with other leaders, has to "do better." 

“So often we try to meet the moment with rhetoric, we feign resolve. … And yet, over and over and over again, we hear the names of those lives that have been lost, have been taken, justice that was never advanced, and communities continuing to feel like they’re not only being torn asunder but not being listened to," Newsom said during a Monday press conference. 

Citywide protests began in Minneapolis following Floyd's death last Monday after police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee on his neck until Floyd stopped breathing. Just before Newsom spoke on Monday, an independent autopsy commissioned by Floyd’s family determined that Floyd died of asphyxiation, family attorneys said. In preliminary autopsy results, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner cited combined effects of being restrained, any potential intoxicants in Floyd's system and his underlying health issues, including heart disease, probably contributed to his death. 

In response to Floyd's death, protests have left parts of the city a grid of broken windows, burned-out buildings and ransacked stores, something Newsom said "we as a society need to call … out.

“The looting, the violence, the threats against fellow human beings, that has no place in this state and in this nation," Newsom said. However, he emphasized that now marks a moment in which we have to "change culture, not just laws." 

He also described the current situation as a "pandemic on top of a pandemic."

"The black community is not responsible for what's happening in this country right now. We are. Our institutions are responsible. We are accountable to this moment. Let's just call that out."

Newsom went on to express his hopes that he, along with other leaders, can prove that they can handle things differently. "People have lost patience because they haven't seen progress so if you're out there saying, 'people need to be patient,' consider that people have lost patience for a reason.They have been told that over and over and over again."

He added: "This is a manifestation of everything we've been promoting but haven't delivered. If leaders are going to meet not just this moment but the moments in front of us, we better start listening. … We better start owning up to our own accountability and responsibility." 

Newsom encouraged everyone to "do better" because "society becomes how we behave" and "we are our behaviors." "Each and every one of us has more to do better. I get that. I own that. Leaders can be found everywhere. Leadership is not just some fancy title. We are desperate for leadership in this country."

After a myriad of cities experienced looting and violence over the weekend, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti enlisted helped from the National Guard with Newsom declaring a state of emergency. L.A. County has enacted curfews in response. 

Despite having the National Guard patrolling cities with some expressing outrage over officers shooting rubber bullets, Newsom said "the answer to violence is not more violence. … We need peace and we need to protect small businesses and people that are scared." Newsom reiterated that there needs to be respect for protesters but they cannot condone those "trying to exploit conditions and not advance the cause of justice."

After a reporter asked Newsom about Trump’s call to governors in which he advised governors they were being too "weak" in stopping the protests, Newsom argued, "I could choose to be another voice in that cause, or I could choose to focus the message that I think is so much more powerful, and that is, I care more about them than some of the noise I heard on a morning phone call." 

Newsom directly addressed protesters, letting them know that their voices will be heard. "For those of you out there protesting, I want you to know that you matter. I care, we care. I want you to know that I have a unique responsibility to prove that to you. You've lost patience and so have I. You are right to feel wronged. You are right to feel the way that you are feeling. We have a responsibility to do better and be better." 

"We hear you and we have a responsibility now to prove to you, not just to assert that we are capable of being better and doing more as a society," he said. "Your rage is real, express it." 

Though, Newsom says, "the bible teaches us that we are many parts," he reminded everyone that "at the end of the day, we are one body and when one part suffers, we all suffer. … Now is the time for courage. Now is the time for your voice to be brought to the forefront."