Hard work, not cheap shots, to achieve racial justice

When I saw the videotape of the cold-blooded killing of George Floyd as he begged for mercy, I was horrified and disgusted. I grieve for him, his family and our nation.

I commend those participating in peaceful protest and add my voice to their calls for justice for all. We must purposefully and responsibly examine our law enforcement and criminal justice systems — from top to bottom — to assure that racial bias does not compromise the rights of any American.

As American history has proven all too well, that is hard work. The necessary work will never happen, however, if we follow the misguided path of our career politicians and other cynical opportunists. They want to sell out truth, the rule of law and the victims of mob violence — including black victims — in order to virtue signal and score cheap political points.

The violent riots and looting taking place in Massachusetts and in cities around the country is the opposite of justice. Our cites are burning, besieged by radicals intent on destruction — killing innocent people, setting buildings on fire, stealing and destroying property, and throwing bottles and rocks at police. The actions of the rioters and looters obscure and undermine the righteous message of the protests, which, in its most distilled form, is one of mutual respect and equal protection under the law.

Where are our leaders, the folks we elect to ensure stability and unity?

Suffolk County DA Rachael Rollins tweets out repeatedly that our police are “murderers.” Attorney General Maura Healey, a modern-day Marie Antoinette, blithely suggests we should let our cities burn at the hands of vandals. “That’s how forests grow.”

The two professional pols vying for the U.S. senate are fiddling. Incumbent Ed Markey — having spent 44 years warming seats in Congress — derides our culture as one of “systematic racism.” Wrong, Senator. True, America has racists and policies and practices that have a disparate impact on African Americans, which must be reformed. But we are not a racist country. There is a big difference.

And Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III — one of the privileged whose families slide atop our dual system of justice — hands out reading assignments to “educate ourselves” so we can all achieve his level of wokeness.

Between them, Markey and Kennedy have been in Congress for more than 50 years, and what does Massachusetts have to show for it? Nothing.

I have a demonstrated record of doing the hard work necessary to advance the cause of racial justice. In my career as a lawyer and small-business owner, I have represented dozens of black families against Boston’s most notorious slumlord and a wrongfully convicted black man who spent more than 20 years in jail for crimes he did not commit. I served as the first Diversity Coordinator in one of Boston’s largest law firms and as a founding member of the Boston Bar Association’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee. I have spent more than 20 years leading efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in Massachusetts’ legal community, including among judges, lawyers and law enforcement, as well as other criminal justice reforms. Real people. Real change.

I have succeeded in these efforts with hard work and pragmatic solutions, not extremism. If elected your next U.S. Senator, I will work tirelessly to assure that our federal government is a force for racial justice and fairness. And I will never sell out the victims of crimes, or those who risk their lives to protect us, in order to score cheap political points.

Kevin O’Connor of Dover is a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.