Over the last week, the nation has witnessed horror. The events have shocked our collective soul. They have been jolts to our conscience — both in Connecticut and across the country — that require a moment of mass reflection.
Our emotions might be raw, but our resolve to end this senseless violence must remain strong. We might all have a different reaction based on the events of this last week, as well as different ideas on how we can solve our nation’s problems.
But one thing is absolutely clear: As a nation, we must look in the mirror and ask very simple questions that don’t always have easy answers. Is the horror we’ve witnessed over the last week really who we are — and is it who we want to be? How is it that violence in our society has become so profoundly pervasive?
What’s more, how is it that we are watching weekly — if not daily — tragedy occur? And of course, how do we honor and remember those who have suffered through needless violence, how do we heal together, and how do we move forward to prevent this senselessness from occurring yet again?
What we saw in Baton Rouge and St. Paul this week was painful to watch unfold. Lives were forever changed and, for some, tragically cut short. These events were heartbreaking, and seem to be part of a pattern that results in many communities distrusting the law enforcement who are sworn to protect them. The events encapsulate the fact that while we have made some progress, we must strive to be better. Our prayers are with the victims’ loved ones.
Our country has a proud tradition of peaceful protest, and yesterday, we saw that fundamental — and fundamentally American — right exercised in cities across the nation. Americans stood up to demand change, to seek action, and to raise broader awareness about a critical issue in a largely peaceful way.
Then Dallas happened.
What we saw there was un-American, because it was police officers who sought to keep protesters safe as they attempted to exercise their right to freedom of expression and speech. The protesters’ message was one we should all support: We must be a fairer and more just nation. Yet, the events in Dallas twisted a proud tradition of protest and turned it into tragedy. What happened is as saddening as it is unacceptable. It was as gruesome as the acts that spawned the protests in the first place.
Here in Connecticut, our officers and troopers are standing up to protect our residents every hour of every day. And every day, either at the state or local levels, we are making strides. Our officers and troopers should know just how much we value them, their sacrifice, and their hard work. Just as we should reflect on Baton Rouge, St. Paul, and Dallas, we should think deeply about how much our officers at home give back to our state.
At the same time, we should look to build upon the progress we have made in community policing and building trust between law enforcement and our community.
All of the events we have seen over the last week have been heartbreaking. As the nation grieves, we here at home must continue to foster trust. We must continue to work together. And we must pause to reflect on these horrific incidents so we can learn from them, so that we ourselves can be better citizens and a better state.
Let us take this moment to reflect, to take a collective breath, and to consider how we can do more individually so that we, together, can be a stronger, more peaceful, more unified state and nation.
Dannel P. Malloy is Governor of the state of Connecticut and also chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.