Publishers Note
OpinionPublisher's Note

Publishers Note

Publisher Michael Morris reflects on the protests over the last couple weeks and what that means for Atlanta.

Publisher Michael Morris
Publisher Michael Morris

I would like to personally and publicly thank Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms for her leadership, courage and strength over the last two weeks. Here are some excerpts from her speech late Friday night, May 29: “This is not a protest. … This is chaos.

When you burn down this city, you are burning down our community. We are better than this. We are no longer talking about the murder of an innocent man, we art talking about how you are burning police cars in the streets of Atlanta. Go home!”

I commend her ability to lead this city, not just downtown Atlanta, during a very dark time period. I am amazed at how deftly she has handled the pressure from her constituents, who include the peaceful protesters, rioters, bystanders and onlookers; owners of small Atlanta businesses and large corporations as well as looted and non-looted storefronts all over the city; journalists, the police and a host of other law enforcement; and all of us watching, in person, on CNN or on local channels.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms had little time to prepare, yet her words spoke volumes, her message struck at every Atlantan’s core (maybe not the criminal elements in our society), and she demonstrated leadership for which we could unite and follow. I am a proud Atlantan and I am proud to call Keisha Lance Bottoms our mayor.

The incidents that led up to the riots are dreadful. I am glad to see charges filed against all of George Floyd’s attackers and bystanders. I appreciate the right, in America, for people to congregate, protest and ensure their feelings and voices are heard. I also abhor the violence that has ensued. How unfortunate that the criminal riots overshadowed an extremely important protest.

People have been asking me, in the Jewish community, is this a Jewish issue? This is a human issue, therefore it is a Jewish issue. This is a minority issue, therefore it is a Jewish issue. This is an Atlanta issue, therefore it is an Atlanta Jewish community issue. This is an issue which our Torah specifically addresses, therefore it is a Jewish issue. I want to thank the various Jewish organizations that have been speaking out and supporting the protests, equity and equality under the law in this great country. I appreciate those that are using the Atlanta Jewish Times as one of their platforms.

There are a few people I want to specifically call out. I want to recognize the police and other law enforcement that kneeled with the protesters. I want to recognize the protesters that have protected the police during the riots. I want to recognize all the peaceful protesters that are exercising their rights and are reminding the rest of us how important equality is in America. I think all of these actions remind us that we are all in this together and we will all get through this, together.

I want to end by thanking the police and other law enforcement for doing their job, a very difficult job, a job that is often not black and white, but gray. Most of us are not willing to become law enforcement because it brings about a certain amount of risk. Most of us have not been presented with the situation of whether or not lethal force is imminently warranted. I count myself as one of these people; therefore, I feel as though it is my duty and honor to support, maintain and thank those that do.

It goes without saying, on every tree, there are a few bad apples. I do not condone, respect, nor thank those who serve without honor and integrity. I believe – and hope – there are very few of them. That is why I publicly salute the police on these pages and when I see them in the street.

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