Yesterday and last night we saw two very different scenes unfold in our city. It is very important that we distinguish between the two. The violence that broke out late last night, leading to the destruction of property and looting was disheartening and unacceptable. Businesses were destroyed and robbed, parks and monuments were defaced, and civilians, along with men and women in uniform were attacked. Nine officers and eighteen citizens sought medical attention, not to mention the many who were injured that did not. I strongly condemn the actions of these late-night rioters and while everyone should be angered by the violent unrest we witnessed late last night, we can not let it take away from the overall message of the peaceful protest that took place just hours before.

The protest, which began at Nubian Square, saw thousands of participants marching to the State House in a peaceful and respectful manner, seeking to make their voices heard. We cannot let the violence be the headline. We must all use our voice to loudly amplify the message of the peaceful protesters calling for peace and action. None of us can or should shy away from this moment and we must all stand together. We must condemn blatant acts of racism like we have witnessed this week, with the horrific murder of George Floyd, and in our country's dark history of systemic racism. But it is also a time for people, especially those of us that are white, to listen, educate ourselves, and act. Racism is in our Country's DNA. It exists in obvious ways like we saw this week, but also in microaggressions many Black American experiences every day. The way forward needs to be addressing these injustices in our daily discourse, not just when these vile acts of racism receive national attention.

We need to acknowledge that the murder of George Floyd happened at the hand of a man whose job is to protect and serve the residents of his city. He failed at the most basic level - not only in his job but as a human being. The pain I feel as a result of this heinous act is nothing compared to the deep pain felt by people of color. We must acknowledge that; we must respect that; we must listen; and we must commit to acting alongside those closest to this pain to finally, at long last, eradicate this original sin of America. The discussions and actions needed can sometimes make us feel uncomfortable, but we must all rise to meet this moment. We must turn to each other, not on each other to understand the pain that is real for so many Black and Brown Americans and we must commit to ALL doing our part to create change.

The men and women who participated in this peaceful protest should be commended and I believe that it is more important now than ever to ensure that their message is not lost because of the mayhem that took place following the march. I also want to thank the men and women of the Boston Police Department and all first responders who acted last night with incredible professionalism, both in keeping safe the peaceful protesters during their initial march and rally and in the chaotic aftermath that took place once that protest had ended. Their actions, and those of the peaceful protestors, need to be what we remember going forward. 

As a white man, I pledge to use my privilege for good. I pledge to lift up the voices that have gone unheard for too long and I pledge to not just listen and educate myself, but to act, and I pledge to join in constantly echoing the words that need to be expressed far more often from people that look like me, that black lives matter. Until all of us commit to doing that, each and every day, we can have no hope of confronting the issues of racial injustice, being thrust into the national spotlight once again, and hopefully moving forward together. 

In solidarity, 

Cam Charbonnier 

Candidate for State Representative, 12th Suffolk District