Oberweis, Underwood react to George Floyd killing, protests
The candidates for Illinois' 14th Congressional District agree the recent police killing of a Minnesota man represented an unjust use of force. But as the Republican candidate called for accountability for both the officers involved and those who engaged in looting after, the Democratic incumbent focused her reaction on police reform and addressing inequalities for black Americans.
Republican state Sen. Jim Oberweis was the first to put out a statement Monday. He called the killing of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin an "unjust slaying" and a "heinous crime."
"The officers who took an oath to uphold the law abandoned their oath and became violent criminals," Oberweis said.
He went on to support peaceful demonstrations in the wake of the killing. But he condemned riots and looting as an unacceptable expression of the emotions unleashed by Floyd's killing.
"Innocent people are getting hurt, and innocent lives are being destroyed," Oberweis said of the riots. "Fighting injustice with more injustice is the wrong response. The need for accountability from both the death of George Floyd and the rioters is something with which we should all agree."
Underwood put out a four-minute video statement on her Facebook page Tuesday afternoon. She said she's struggling with a variety of emotions running from sadness to anger on behalf of her fellow African Americans.
She described Floyd's killing as part of what the black community has endured for centuries. She also described the use of force to quell peaceful protesters as "excessive, extremely inappropriate and terrifying."
"When we all say the Pledge of Allegiance, and we talk about the need for liberty and justice for all, that is not something that I consider to be conditional," Underwood said. "These types of protections should apply to all Americans. The idea that the American people would have the horrible circumstance to watch four police officers killing a man over the course of 9 minutes is something that I just don't recognize as being part of that American dream."
Underwood is working with her fellow black caucus members in the House on a package of legislation aimed at correcting inequalities in economics, health care and public safety faced by the black community.