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Rep. John Lewis to looters: ‘Be constructive, not destructive’

'Organize. Demonstrate. Sit-in. Stand-up. Vote," Congressman Lewis, an icon of the civil rights movements said.

Published: June 1, 2020 5:44pm

Updated: June 2, 2020 2:43pm

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a civil rights movement icon, is denouncing the violent protests occurring in major cities across the U.S. after the death of George Floyd.

"Just as people of all faiths and no faiths, and all backgrounds, creeds, and colors banded together decades ago to fight for equality and justice in a peaceful, orderly, non-violent fashion, we must do so again," Lewis said in a statement over the weekend.

“To the rioters here in Atlanta and across the country: I see you, and I hear you. I know your pain, your rage, your sense of despair and hopelessness. Justice has, indeed, been denied for far too long. Rioting, looting, and burning is not the way," he added.

As alternatives to riots, Lewis, who delivered remarks at Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington in 1963, recommended protestors take a different approach.

"Organize. Demonstrate. Sit-in. Stand-up. Vote. Be constructive, not destructive. History has proven time and again that non-violent, peaceful protest is the way to achieve the justice and equality that we all deserve," Lewis said.

“Our work won't be easy – nothing worth having ever is – but I strongly believe, as Dr. King once said, that while the arc of the moral universe is long, it bends toward justice," he also said.

Some of Floyd's family members also denounced the riots and looting in U.S. cities over the last six nights.

Floyd was arrested May 25 by Minneapolis police and later died at a hospital. One of the four officers involved in the arrest has been charged with murder. 

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