McConnell calls on nation to 'pull together' after violence rocks hometown of Louisville

McConnell calls on nation to 'pull together' after violence rocks hometown of Louisville
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcGrath reshuffles campaign in home stretch to Senate election GOP senator draws fire from all sides on Biden, Obama-era probes Chris Wallace rips both parties for coronavirus package impasse: 'Pox on both their houses' MORE (R-Ky.) on Friday called on the country to “pull together” amid demonstrations in Louisville and other cities following the high-profile deaths of several African Americans.

The GOP leader condemned the violence in Louisville, where seven people were shot Thursday night, and in Minneapolis, the site of three nights of protests that turned violent on Thursday with a police station set ablaze.

“Our city, our state, and our country have to pull together. Violence does not make our streets safer. Injustice does not promote justice. Destruction does not build a better society. We will only be able to chart the future we want if we do it together,” McConnell said in a statement.

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Speaking to reporters in Kentucky earlier Friday, McConnell criticized police officers in Louisville and Minneapolis for using excessive force.

“If you see what happened, [they] look pretty darn guilty,” he said.

McConnell, however, declined to comment on President TrumpDonald John TrumpUPS, FedEx shut down calls to handle mail-in ballots, warn of 'significant' problems: report Controversial GOP Georgia candidate attempts to distance from QAnon Trump orders TikTok parent company to sell US assets within 90 days MORE’s tweet Friday morning warning that that National Guard would shoot protesters who loot stores and destroy property.

Trump called the Minneapolis protesters “THUGS” and said he would deploy troops if necessary.

“Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he tweeted.

McConnell said in Friday's statement that he supports an investigation into the death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot at her Louisville home by plainclothes police officers executing a no-knock search warrant during a drug investigation.

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“I am glad the Louisville Metro Police Department is investigating, I am glad the FBI is involved, and I am glad Attorney General Cameron has announced his office will evaluate what actions may be necessary after all the facts are in hand. Breonna’s family and all Kentuckians deserve truth, accountability, and justice,” he said, referring to Kentucky's attorney general, Daniel Cameron.

The GOP leader condemned violence that flared up last night in Louisville and other cities following the death of another African American, George Floyd, who died while in police custody.

McConnell voiced respect for the First Amendment’s protection of free speech and protest but said the demonstrations in Louisville, Minneapolis and other cities have gone too far.

“I have championed these liberties my entire career. Stealing, burning down buildings, attacking law enforcement officers, or laying siege to police precincts is not speech or protest. It is violent crime that victimizes innocent people,” he said.

“Kentuckians cannot and will not accept violence and chaos on our streets. Seven people were shot in Louisville last night, and according to Mayor [Greg] Fischer [D], none of those shots were fired by law enforcement. This senseless behavior has to stop,” he added. 

Another African American man, Ahmaud Arbery, was shot and killed in Georgia earlier this year when two white men tried to make a citizen’s arrest, saying they suspected he was a burglar.

McConnell said the deaths of Taylor, Arbery and Floyd, who died after a police officer in Minneapolis kneeled on his neck for several minutes while making an arrest, have “shaken the nation."

“For millions and millions of outraged Americans, these tragedies do not appear as isolated incidents, but as the latest disturbing chapters in our long, unfinished American struggle to ensure that equal justice under law is not conditional on the color of one’s skin,” he said.