LITTLE FALLS, N.J.- The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 has prompted many state and local officials to respond to the ongoing issue of racism in the nation and the subsequent protests against police brutality.
Little Falls Mayor James Damiano read a statement on behalf of himself, the Township Council, and Little Falls Police Chief Steven Post at the June 8th Township Council meeting regarding the murder of Floyd at the hands of Officer Derek Chauvin. Chauvin and three other officers were fired and then arrested in connection with Floyd’s death. Chauvin is now charged with murder and the other three officers were charged with aiding and abetting the murder.
Damiano stated that he, along with Post, the Little Falls Police Department (LFPD), and the Township Council were "stunned" with the senseless act of violence that took place resulting in the death of Floyd.
"We wish to express our deepest condolences and sympathies to the family and friends of Mr. Floyd. His death has shocked and angered people across the country and around the world," Damiano said during the meeting.
Damiano also spoke on behalf of the LFPD and his administration regarding their commitment to "protecting the civil rights of all."
"We stand in solidarity in defiance of racism," he added. "Each member of our police department is committed to the highest level of professionalism and respect that our community both deserves and expects."
Damiano further added that the Township stands with those peacefully protesting and stands against those who are motivated by hatred and violence.
"We ask you to join us to help foster an environment where we can come together as one community, It is our turn to listen, to learn and to help."
Council members spoke out in support of Damiano's stand by publicly commenting on Floyd's death and the recent protests after the meeting. Councilman Al Kahwaty said he was proud that Damiano, his fellow council members and the LFPD, can join together to denounce the "evil of racism."
"Hopefully, through listening and empathy we will learn how to understand, and improve on the everyday experiences of our fellow Americans," he said.
Councilman Chris Vancheri echoed the sentiment. As a member of the Township Council, he said he is proud to see Damiano, Township Council members, Chief Post and the LFPD standing together as one in defiance of racism.
He was also optimistic when it came to impacting change.
"We have an opportunity to learn from the recent events, to help find the answers, and to bring about meaningful change,” he added.
Councilwoman Tanya Seber said she was glad to be aligned with Damiano, fellow council members and the LFPD to stand up and speak out against racism..
"I have seen strength in actions to help break through barriers during these trying times," she explained. "As a community, we must be united so that we can make changes and heal together."
Councilwoman Maria Martini Cordonnier said she found it encouraging that so many young people of every ethnic and racial make-up are participating in the marches.
"The murder of an African American man, George Floyd, was an act seen around the world and lead bare the reality of racism that exists in our country and beyond," she said.
She also commented on the recent protests.
"Marches that are for the soul of America," she noted.