The recent confluence of events has given pause to the commonly accepted belief that a reasonable diverse people can coexist, while maximizing personal freedoms and maintaining a civilized society. The unrest we are experiencing today is not the first time American society has come to a boil on its road to equality and justice: the Civil War and Revolution, the early 20th century women’s suffrage and labor movements, the 1950s struggle against racial segregation and voter suppression, the Vietnam protest that eliminated military conscription, the present struggle to protect the unborn, etc. All of these mainly peaceful efforts had their share of spilled blood, violent outbursts, property destruction and the appearance of an anarchist element.
Today the conflict is between the legal principle “innocent until proven guilty” and the daily decisions our police officers must make as to when to use force to protect others, themselves and suspects from harm. No American should ever face the excessive force George Floyd did, nor should they face police harassment due to their physical appearance. We all should be outraged at what happened, but unlike past widespread inhuman behavior in America (slavery, segregation or the present slaughter of the unborn), the brutal behavior of a single police officer is the exception here, not the rule.
When this episode passes, I believe America will take another step forward. The respect for civil rights now held by the majority of police officers will be adopted by all who protect and serve.
What is concerning about this event is the acceptance by some elected officials and many in the national press of the element of anarchy. The events of today have happened before: police vehicles vandalized, government buildings occupied, landmarks toppled and personal property destroyed. In the past, they have always been condemned. It is the responsibility of elected officials to defend our civil society and support the rule of law. It is disheartening watching elements in the press and elected officials making excuses for those who willfully destroy the property of others and seemingly embracing the anarchic philosophy that all government is undesirable, espousing utter confusion as a desirable outcome.
Attitudes on race and fairness in America start with how we set examples for our children. In our schools, if children perceive a disparity in how individual children are treated as to classroom behavior, it will follow them into the rest of their lives. I will continue to pursue legislation that helps change the outlook for the next generation.
Over the last four years, we have worked with the education establishment, teachers and parents on legislation to upgrade our statutes related to classroom behavioral awareness and intervention. LB 147 with amendment AM 2297 is the result. Through school employee training, this legislation seeks to teach educators to focus on the behavior and why the behavior is occurring instead of the background or physical presence of the student. It will protect school personnel from disciplinary action if they follow their training and school policies that are required in LB147.
Presently, some schools have adopted behavioral intervention plans similar to LB 147. Others allow anarchy to ensue when a student erupts in anger, and some allow teachers to physically intervene when trouble occurs without the necessary training on how to properly conduct themselves. I continue to hear a false narrative on what LB 147 will do. It does not encourage physical restraint or physical punishment; on the contrary, it draws from time-tested, mainstream principles to foster mutual respect, deescalate violent behavior and allow school personnel to react to all student behavior uniformly. If a student’s behavior disrupts the class, they may be removed from the classroom and they will be asked to explain their behavior to a well-trained, calm and collected school employee.
I firmly believe if children are assured they will be treated equally, they will believe they will be rewarded in life if they put in the effort. The only thing standing in the way of LB 147 will be objections from some that its supporters do not have the correct cultural background or political affiliation. Hopefully this time, prejudice will not get in the way of progress.
Contact Sen. Mike Groene: firstname.lastname@example.org or 402-471-2729.