June 16, 2020

Moulton To Service Members: 'Be On The Right Side Of History'

In a virtual town hall, Rep. Seth Moulton said service members should lay down their arms if the President uses the military as a "tyrant."

SALEM, MA — U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton used a virtual town hall to suggest members of the military should consider laying down their arms if President Donald Trump orders them to partake in actions that "continue racial inequality."

"What we are witnessing is true patriotism in action," the Salem Democrat said in a virtual town hall Monday. "If the President chooses to abuse the military as a tyrant would do ... [I have] called on the young men and women serving their country to lay down their arms. Be on the right side of history. We're better than this, but we have a lot of work to do to prove it."

Moulton, a former Marine Corps officer, has been both a champion of veterans and a vocal critic of President Trump. Trump has been criticized for his response to protests across the country following the May 25 death of George Floyd while handcuffed by Minneapolis police, including using troops and police to clear a path of protesters for him to walk to St. John's Church in Washington, D.C., for a photo opportunity.

Moulton was joined by Rev. Dr. Andre Bennett, the pastor of youth and young adults at Zion Baptist Church and the co-founder and school culture director at Equity Lab Community Learning in Lynn. He is a key leader in the local Black Lives Matter movement who joined the group after an emotional conversation with his son about the death of Tamir Rice.

"We're not saying we don't want police ... we're saying taking some of that funding and funnel it into the community," Bennett said. "We have to look at how our police are being trained....that's what we're asking for."

Moulton said it was not feasible to "abolish the police" as some activists have called for, but he did agree with Bennett on the need to redeploy resources. He said he has seen police officers in U.S. cities wearing more body armor than he and other service members wore while stationed in Iraq.

"What we should do is abolish the culture within police that leads to the deaths of unarmed, young black men," Moulton said. "Part of these reforms may mean re-prioritizing how we spend these tax dollars."

Bennett said the command staff of the Lynn Police Department was mostly white, even though most of the city's residents were ethnic minorities. He suggested a model from Jamaica, where he grew up, where local police departments had clubs to organize social events for and listen to concerns from community members.

"The police were not feared," he said. "I think its traumatic for a 7-year-old walking in his neighborhood to see police officers armed like they are in the Middle East."

Moulton praised protesters and noted that most of the demonstrations had been peaceful, even as media coverage focused on protest where violence had broken out. But he said the problem goes beyond the high-profile incidents of police brutality that have mobilized protesters in recent weeks.

"I'm listening to the voices demanding change from Minneapolis to Marblehead," Moulton said. "Police brutality is a major part of the problem, but I also know it is so much more than that. It's historic, systemic racism in housing, education and healthcare."

By:  Dave Copeland
Source: Patch Salem