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PEORIA – In response to the eruption of violence throughout the Peoria area last night, State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) released the following statement:

“In the early 1970s, I worked for and marched with Cesar Chavez, founder and leader of the United Farm Workers Union. Non-violent protest was necessary to get the attention of the powers to be that things had to change. The time had come for justice among the ranks of America’s farm workers.

“Cesar often spoke of non-violent action as something he learned from the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He felt the only way to achieve justice, was to affirm the dignity of everyone in a peaceful way and to resist the temptation of violence and destruction.

“In 1977, just a year before moving to Peoria, my wife and I were sent by Cesar to the New York City Boycott (a non-violent strategy of putting pressure on grape and lettuce growers to help achieve union contracts for farm workers). My task was to rid the volunteer support groups we had built up in the city of all the anarchists who used the farm worker movement for their own political purposes.

“Recalling this experience brought me to reflect upon the events that transpired over the weekend. Protests occurred on every corner and street in America, and I will defend the right and necessity of peaceful protest to right centuries-old wrongs and to bring about change. However, I will not defend those who take advantage of the chaos for personal gain through unnecessary violence, destruction and looting. They are putting innocent lives at risk and must be held accountable.

“While I recognize people are experiencing pain and frustration, destroying the property of local businesses will not bring justice to the family of George Floyd, or any of the countless families who have suffered because a loved one was murdered at the hands of the police. We are still firmly in the middle of a pandemic, and members of our local business community are working around the clock to get back to doing business and providing jobs in our community.

“Let us focus on the injustices that have occurred too often and the underlying racism that runs through our society, keeping communities of color from prosperity. Let us peacefully pursue justice, rather than destruction.”

Category: Press Releases

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Springfield Office:
323B Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8250

Peoria Office:
400 NE Jefferson, Suite 200
Peoria, IL 61603
(309) 677-0120