Mayor Steinberg: 2019 will be a year of 'fighting every day for opportunity and justice'
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg reflected on what would bring true justice to Sacramento during an address to the Martin Luther King, Jr. anniversary dinner Saturday night at California State University, Sacramento. Following is the text of his remarks:
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spent his adult lifetime telling us to speak the truth and showing us that keeping the peace and pursuing justice are not opposing imperatives. We can’t have one without the other. True peace comes only when people who have been left out and left behind know that they are seen and heard and that they have a real chance in life. And when we actually build opportunities for all neighborhoods and all people, not just tear each other down.
Peace and justice. I’ve been thinking a lot about those two ideals as we approach the one-year anniversary of Stephon Clark’s death. I search deep for the answers and ask myself, ‘How do we speak about the men and women who protect us and the communities that sometimes feel very differently about their experiences with police. We don’t know what will happen in the months ahead, but I know this:
We can want more and demand more from our PD without attacking police officers. We can criticize and insist on change while having the deepest and most heartfelt respect for those who put themselves on the line. They both put their lives at risk and have an awesome power to take lives. We should always insist that this awesome power be tempered with wisdom, justice and humility. We must celebrate the good and great stories of police community connections and programs and the good works that happen every day.
We must also acknowledge and act upon the deep wounds that still exist because of the worst chapters of our nation’s and even our community’s history; when segregation and discrimination were both legal and accepted as just the way things were. That too many people in our community feel left out and left behind. That young people have had and continue to feel too often that they are treated differently because of their race.
Dr. King brilliantly taught us that non-violence doesn’t mean inaction. That protest is not just OK, it is necessary. That changing state laws that need changing, that insisting that foot pursuit, for example, be the last and not the first resort, is not only right but better protects both our community and our police officers. That we should all be participants in implicit bias training. Whether we wear the uniform or not, implicit bias is in all of us.
I know this: Justice will only happen in Sacramento when we can answer the question I publicly asked last year. Why should a third grader living in South Sacramento have any less of a chance in life than a third grader living in East Sacramento?
Last week we announced pop-up events to ensure young people have good and safe things to do every Friday night in our city.
It’s a great start but not nearly enough.
We must use 2019 to fight justice every day to transform lives. Let’s have 2019 be a year of peace for Sacramento. And a year of fighting every day for opportunity and justice.”