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Sen. Cruz: Let’s Use This Moment of Enormous Challenges To Work Together Toward Solutions

Hosts discussion on Juneteenth with Sen. Cornyn, Houston Mayor Turner, law enforcement & community leaders

HOUSTON, Texas - U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on The Constitution, today, on the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, hosted a roundtable discussion with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on improving the relationship between law enforcement and the community they serve.

Addressing local law enforcement and community leaders, Sen. Cruz said:

"None of us have ever faced a confluence of challenges like this before. We're all dealing with a global pandemic [...] We're also facing economic challenges on the order of the Great Depression. [...] And just when we thought that those two national disasters weren't enough, we have seen enormous racial divisions really pulling at the fabric of this country. [It] was obviously triggered with a horrific killing of George Floyd, a Houstonian."

"In the immediate aftermath of Mr. Floyd's killing, I will say it was encouraging the unanimity with which everyone condemned what happened. Across the political spectrum, every observer who watched those eight minutes and 46 seconds with the officer's knee on Mr. Floyd's neck, it was indefensible. There was no law enforcement justification for a man who was handcuffed and incapacitated and begging for his life. We were all horrified at what happened. And that's a call for reform. That's a call for all of us together to look at ways to make sure that our justice system is more fair. That we are providing equal justice under the law. That we're protecting everyone regardless of skin color."

Sen. Cruz went on to commend Mayor Turner and the Houston community for coming together during these difficult times, noting:

"I was proud of Houston, of how we have dealt with each of these crises. On coronavirus, I think we have been smart, we've been proactive. We've managed to keep the numbers far more under control than many other parts of the country. On the economy, I think we've also been smart trying to lean in and help businesses reopen.

"And when it came to the racial divisions and the anger, we saw a lot of free speech here, but thankfully we did not see nearly as much violence as some other parts of the country saw. And that's a testament, Chief, to our police officers. It's a testament, Mayor, to our community, to who we are, that the people engaged in speech but didn't take it to the next level of violent destruction. And my hope is we use this moment of time, this moment of enormous challenges to step forward with good, reasonable, common-sense solutions."

In advance of the Senate's consideration next week of the JUSTICE Act - legislation Sens. Cruz and Cornyn introduced with their Senate colleagues to improve America's justice system and help ensure the rights of all Americans are protected - Sen. Cruz recognized the essential role of law enforcement in keeping our communities safe, adding:

"In reforming the system, in putting in place steps to ensure people's lives are protected and protected fairly and equally without regard to skin color - and that is a critically important imperative of justice, especially today on Juneteenth of all days - we also need to make sure not to give in, I believe, to some of the angry voices that are just demonizing police.

"[In] Houston, we have an incredible police force. And I believe the vast majority of officers step up to serve because they love their community and they want to keep people safe. They want to protect people. And it is easy for this debate to turn into, ‘police are the bad guys.' And that's harmful. That is harmful not only to law enforcement, but it's harmful to our communities. And so I have great optimism. Houston is a problem-solving community. Houston is a city where we work together. And so I'm grateful for this roundtable to hear from leaders around the table and discuss these difficult but really important questions."

Watch Sen. Cruz's opening remarks from today's roundtable discussion here. Access photos from today's roundtable discussion here.

Read Sen. Cruz's statement recognizing the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth here.