To the editor:
An open letter to Gov. Rauner,
I am disappointed to read this morning of your comment regarding your disagreement with those who take the knee in the NFL.
You said, "I strongly disagree with those who have chosen to disrespect, to – frankly – insult our flag, our national anthem, our nation as a whole, our values and to insult our veterans ..."
Your comments indicate that you, as governor of all the residents of Illinois, are not listening to the voices of our fellow citizens of color.
You are misunderstanding and misrepresenting their actions and their intentions.
Taking the knee honors the Constitution, the flag, our values of equal justice of all before the law, our nation "as a whole" (which includes nearly 120 million people of color), and our veterans who did not lay their lives on the line to enable officers of the peace at home to violate the civil rights of U.S. citizens. That violation of rights includes the fatal shootings of 963 U.S. citizens by police officers across the nation in 2016. We are on track to exceed that number this year.
As an elected government official obligated to represent all Illinois residents, you are legally bound to listen to the pleas for justice from your constituents. There are thousands of them who are disrespected and insulted by officials of our state every year. Their communities are terrorized by the violence perpetrated against them by public servants every day. They attend funeral services of members of their communities – their loved ones – every week.
To protest the blatant injustices done to and violations of the civil rights of citizens is a patriotic duty. If we are not actively taking action in support, we – at the very least – owe them the respect of taking their grievances seriously.
I urge you – and the entire Illinois Legislature – to take the knee in front of the Illinois State Capitol Building, take a picture, and post it on Illinois.gov.
The inspiration and feeling of mutual respect, understanding and support that would result could change this state in positive ways we can't begin to imagine.
You are our elected leader. Please use your position of leadership to unite all the people of Illinois in support for civil rights and equal justice for all citizens.
Julie Ann Myers