I feel that I need to say something, and to let my voice ring out with the millions upon millions of Americans who are outraged, appalled, disgusted, and saddened by the murder of George Floyd.

I would like to believe that the vast majority of people in western Colorado share these same feelings. Like so many others, I'm saddened and angered at the realization that for as far as we have come on issues of racism, we are miles and miles away from fulfilling the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. There have been far too many George Floyd's who's lives have needlessly been snuffed out by the ugliness of racism.

It is extremely unfortunate that in the aftermath of Floyd's death, the protests of angry people have turned both violent and deadly.

Let me be clear, not for one moment do I condone or dismiss this inappropriate and deplorable behavior of the past several days.

However, I do fully support the spirit of the protest. I'm angry about the senseless death of George Floyd. People of all races are angry, and for good reason. I understand it. These voices need to be heard and a response needs to be given. It's not enough to simply acknowledge there is a problem. It's time to make a change, a change that needs to happen on many levels.

We can't let the fact that some people have acted irresponsibly and recklessly deter us from seeing the problem, understanding the anger, and joining with them to bring about the change this country needs to unite us as one nation under God. While not excusing their actions or looking past repulsive acts. We have to be able to see through it all to hear their voice and to feel their heart.

The sad reality is, racism will always be a part of American society, regardless of how ugly and distasteful it is. While we can and should continue to strive to give equal respect and opportunity to people of color, we will never erase the race card in our country. Because of the freedom we have fought for, cling to, and cherish, there are those who will continue to sow the bitter seeds of hatred across our land.

The key to victory is to keep these individuals on the sidelines and to make sure that we are not putting them in positions of power and authority where their evil ideology can be played out in front of our eyes.

Yes, our police departments need to take steps to ensure every law enforcement officer is held to the highest possible standard with a zero-tolerance policy for any sort of conduct that exudes racism. Even more than that, I feel we need to do a better job of vetting the candidates for law enforcement positions. Why not put potential officers through psychological testing to try and uncover racist tendencies? Expand background checks into the personal lives and attitudes of these individuals to be sure they aren't a ticking time bomb. As much as possible, let's be sure the people we are hiring to protect and serve the public are free of racial bias and prejudice.

Let's set a higher standard for the people we put into these positions. We can not eliminate these hateful people from our society, but we can work hard to keep them from holding positions where they have the opportunity to abuse their power and authority.

There is not a quick or simple solution to the problem. But, the only way to solve it is if every decent human being in America will stand together for a common cause - hand in hand, arm in arm, and heart to heart.

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