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Press Release

Statement of U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer on George Floyd’s Death and DOJ’s Commitment to the First Amendment and Public Safety

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of California

Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Tenorio (619) 909-7556 

SAN DIEGO – Last week on Memorial Day, in Minneapolis, MN, George Floyd’s life was taken violently and without justification by law enforcement. His death awakened echoes of recent and historic racism, inequality, and excessive force that has disproportionately affected African-Americans in our country. While this tragic event and subsequent violence over several days affects us all, I appreciate that many of our neighbors are in particular pain and feel vulnerable simply because of the color of their skin.

Having proudly taken an oath to uphold our Constitution, I am always mindful that the laws must be enforced without prejudice or favor: For the benefit and protection of all, regardless of the identity of the perpetrator. The Constitution protects against unreasonable force under color of law. As law enforcement leaders, we must hold everyone—including those who wear the uniform—to the same standard under the law. The obligation to do so is self-evident, but it bears emphasizing that the equal commitment to the law is the only way to protect both victims of police violence and those men and women in uniform who serve our communities with honor. 

Wearing a police uniform is one of the hardest jobs in society. We are all indebted to the self-sacrifice and commitment to our communities by those who protect us. But everyone in law enforcement—prosecutors and peace officers—can, and must, do better. The United States Attorney’s Office remains steadfast in its commitment to assisting our law enforcement partners to adopt and employ best policing practices and most effectively and fairly protect all members of our communities. 

At the same time, we are equally committed to our long-standing involvement with civic, faith, and other community organizations to combat hate and help our communities chart a better path forward. We will continue our collaboration with the San Diego Regional Hate Crime Coalition to coordinate community outreach, open dialogue, and the prevention of hate incidents and discrimination. With our local and state partners, we will continue to zealously investigate and prosecute hate crimes that cause far-reaching damage to entire communities.

The Constitution strongly protects the First Amendment right of all to speak out and peacefully protest. The violence by a relatively small number of opportunists who have sought to wreak havoc, destroy property, and threaten the safety of peaceful protestors and law enforcement alike, clearly detract from our ability to heal from the wounds of Mr. Floyd’s death and to seek that better path forward. One of the great defining features of this country is our adherence to the rule of law. We do not have to choose between our obligation to enforce the law and our personal outrage. Nor are we required to leave behind our own feelings of empathy and sadness in enforcing the law against those who seek to break it, while facilitating peaceful protest, another hallmark of American democracy.

We are fortunate to be a part of a strong, resilient and collaborative San Diego community. I have been in constant contact over the last four days with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners to support and coordinate our collective response to acts of violence as we protect peaceful protestors and our communities. The cooperation and collaboration among our first responders has been impressive, and their intent to work with our community and address their concerns is clear. Together, while condemning the underlying problems that led to Mr. Floyd’s senseless death and the violence in the aftermath, we are taking a strong stand and affirming our enduring commitment to the equal protection and justice for all.


Updated June 2, 2020

Civil Rights
Community Outreach
Press Release Number: CAS20-0602-Statement