The Seguin Gazette
A Seguin city councilman took a stand this week against racism.
Councilman Jeremy Roy filled council chambers Tuesday evening with more than echoes of grant approvals and budget discussions by speaking about the strength in fighting racism as a unified community and the dangers of remaining silent.
“I want to speak as a member of the clergy, but also as a member of this council,” Roy said. “I also want to speak, acknowledging that I know that I am a white male. That’s obvious. But I also want to acknowledge that that gives me certain privileges, and I think it’s important to acknowledge that being so has afforded me employment and other options that I might not have had had I not been. I also want to speak because my children want me to. They’ve been asking me, ‘dad, you got to speak to this.’”
The councilmen gave his impassioned speech following council’s hearing of residents during Tuesday evening’s regular meeting. Roy addressed Monday evening’s prayer service in Central Park, where about 150 community members gathered to pray for the family of George Floyd and for an end to racism.
Floyd is the 46-year-old man who died Memorial Day in police custody in Minneapolis. Viral cell phone video of Floyd’s final encounter with police shows him handcuffed and lying face down on the ground pleading that he couldn’t breathe as a Minneapolis police officer presses his knee into the back of Floyd’s neck for several minutes.
Video of the encounter sparked accusations that Floyd’s death was race-related and led to protests across the country, including violent and destructive unrest in many major cities. The officer and three others involved in the encounter with Floyd reportedly all face charges in connection to Floyd’s death.
During a prayer service held Monday in Seguin, New St. James Rev. Arthur Malone Jr. carried a sign that caused Roy to reflect, the council member said.
“The sign had a quote on there from Martin Luther King Jr. ‘There comes a time when silence is betrayal,’” Roy said. “I speak this evening because I don’t want to betray my African American brothers and sisters any longer, and I’m speaking specifically about my black friends. I want to acknowledge that there are people in our country that are suffering deeply from racism, and I want to acknowledge that innocent lives have been lost as a result, and that absolutely breaks my heart.”
Seguin Police Chief Terry Nichols stood by as Roy applauded the chief’s recent response to the happenings around the country and his presence at Monday’s Central Park prayer service.
“I don’t want to mischaracterize your actions, but I have seen strength in your actions,” Roy said. “I’ve seen compassion in your response to the issues of late and, more importantly, I see in you a desire to be slow to speak, slow to anger and quick to listen, and eager to learn and eager to break down barriers, all while protecting our community.”
Roy noticed that some community members have expressed a misunderstanding of what Monday’s prayer service was all about on social media, and clarified that it was a gathering geared toward healing and the acknowledgment of racism, he said.
“The pastors prayed first for George Floyd’s family, and then they thoughtfully and passionately acknowledged the broken hearts and broken lives in our country. Then they also addressed the issue of racism and acknowledged the absolute poison that it is. It was after that – and our chief is okay with this – that they prayed for his officers and prayed for EMS and prayed for first responders.”
Seguin Police Department officers were invited and plan to visit several churches in the community this weekend, Roy said.
“There are plans for you (Nichols) to sit down soon with some of the black leaders in our community to hear from them,” Roy said. “We’ve put that together just today because you want to know what their perception is of our police department, and there are plans also being made for some of your officers to attend church this Sunday in some of our historically black churches. This is what authentic leadership does.”
Roy called for others to lend their ears and open their hearts. One of the bravest things white men and women can do to help is to listen,” he said.
“We need to pray, and we need to acknowledge our own prejudices… and hopefully, sit down and have some intelligent, thoughtful conversations with people of color,” Roy said. “My prayer is that the ultimate result will be the breaking down of barriers, the stopping of violence. I am willing to be part of the conversation in our community, and I think it’s been a long time coming. We’ve made so much progress, but there’s more to be made. So I invite others to join the conversation.”