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Brennan urges peaceful activism in Floyd’s honor

WHEELING — The memory of George Floyd and others who died in similar incidents can be honored by working for justice, the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston Monday told the faithful.

In the meantime, the U.S. Attorneys for the Northern and Southern districts of West Virginia and the FBI warned those who are inciting violence and crime will face federal charges.

Floyd’s killing last week by a Minneapolis police officer while three other patrolmen did nothing has sparked protests and riots across America.

“The killing of George Floyd was an egregious act of violence with no justification whatsoever, all the worse for having been perpetrated by some police officers who are sworn to serve and protect their fellow citizens,” Bishop Mark E. Brennan said. “Most law enforcement officials are decent men and women who train hard to restrain any violent impulses and to be respectful as they deal with the public. Mr. Floyd did not meet that kind of police officer the day he was killed.”

The officer who held his knee on Floyd’s neck has been charged with third-degree murder. The other three officers have yet to be charged.

Protests continued across cities in the United States on Monday. A peaceful demonstration was held in Parkersburg and in Wheeling on Sunday and a silent demonstration is scheduled for noon this coming Sunday in Marietta.

“The justified protests currently underway must not be tainted by those who wish to spread violence or ruin the livelihoods of their neighbors,” Brennan said. “Such acts do not advance the cause of racial equality and respect for the human dignity of all.

“Pope St. Paul VI said, ‘If you want peace, work for justice,'” Brennan said. “Injuries to persons and destruction of property are not the work of justice and will not bring peace.”

In a separate release, U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr has directed federal law enforcement actions to apprehend violent criminal agitators who have taken over peaceful protests and are engaging in violations of federal law. The U.S. Attorneys from the Northern and Southern Districts of West Virginia and the FBI are employing the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force to identify criminal organizers and instigators, coordinating federal resources with state and local partners, and seeking federal prosecutions where applicable.

“Let me be clear — this is a nation grounded in the right to protest. This nation is also grounded in the rule of law,” Mike Stuart, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, said. “The right to protest is not a right to loot, riot, commit property destruction or to engage in or incite violence.”

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