Given via Teleconference before the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Council
First, let me say that I understand why we are here today. Just like with the Opioid Crisis and COVID-19, through no fault of the Commonwealth, we had a situation arise in communities across the state that required immediate action by first responders, our municipalities, and even our National Guard.
I understand the Governor’s decision to issue an emergency declaration in response to the protests and riots that have come as a result of the untimely death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
As a former member of law enforcement, I am appalled by those officers’ use of force and disregard for the life they took and condemn their gross negligence.
In my capacity as a United States Marshal, I was detailed to Los Angeles by President George H.W. Bush in the wake of the Rodney King verdicts that resulted in 63 deaths and over 2,000 injured.
I am now, as I was then, dismayed by the subsequent actions by those who have turned to violence and destruction within their own communities. These actions are completely counterproductive, and the absolute disregard for other human beings as well as the law, should not be how Pennsylvanians rise up against injustice.
Additionally, it should be noted that antagonists and groups like ANTIFA need to be held accountable with the full force of the law.
I stand ready to work with Governor Wolf and his administration under this new emergency declaration.
What we’ve learned from the Opioid Crisis Declaration and the COVID-19 Declaration is that we must work together and establish goals.
While I understand the Administration’s legal justification, the Emergency Declaration language in Title 35 was NOT meant to be used for general health declarations – it was not meant for the unilateral governance by one person – and it was not meant to go on for years.
I urge Governor Wolf to put a clear timeline and clear cut objectives on this newest declaration, as well as the Opioid Crisis Declaration, which was just renewed for the 10th time since being issued in 2018, and the COVID-19 Declaration, which is set to expire this week but is anticipated to be renewed.
Commonwealth residents are divided on many fronts as witnessed in recent weeks with the handling of COVID-19 and now in response to the death of George Floyd.
As their government leaders, it is incumbent upon us to help unite them, but we cannot do that when we ourselves are divided.
Let us show them that we can work together in a unified, bipartisan manner to heal and protect Pennsylvania and be a model for this nation.