In any other presidential administration, multiple nights of rioting nationwide would lead to the President delivering comments from the Oval Office. Comments meant to calm the fears of Americans, promise a way forward and reach out across the aisle to encourage his political opponents to join in an effort to bring the country back together.
Sadly, Donald Trump seems genetically incapable of delivering that speech. Even his biggest political supporters will admit that the overriding characteristic of his personality is to be disruptive. Followed closely by a need to spin every situation so that it casts the best possible reflection on him personally. While this is an effective combination of character flaws during an election, it's not the combination of traits that will likely lead to a Churchill-type call to action or even a Bobby Kennedy call for calm and justice.
We have the president we have and there's nothing to be done right now. But I decided that what I could write the type of speech I wish Donald Trump was capable of delivering. The words of healing that we need as a democracy.
My fellow Americans.
Like you, I have been heartbroken by the scenes of civil unrest and rioting I have seen on the streets of many American cities over the past several days. I believe in the promise of America. I believe that we can make America great again. But in order to become great, we must confront the issues that continue to divide us. We must live up to the promise of our founding fathers and honor the sacrifices of all the women and women who have died in our name.
We have to do better. I...have to do better.
Some of these protests seem to have been instigated by outside parties hoping to inflame the situation and further drive us apart. And in the upcoming days, I will instruct every part of our Justice Department to identify these domestic terrorist groups and bring their members to justice. Whether they are members of Antifa, the Proud Boys or any other organization seeking to create civil unrest, I deliver the same message to all of them: "Your time is done. America's strength is built on our ability to love others and build this imperfect union together. There is no place here for your hate or your intolerance."
But I cannot in good conscience argue this violence was primarily sparked by anarchists and political nihilists seeking to divide us. Many of the people out in the streets have valid reasons to be angry. Real reasons to have given up on the criminal justice system and America's promise that justice would be fair, equal and righteous.
While there is nothing I can do that can bring back the life of George Floyd or any of the men and women who have tragically lost their lives to police violence, I can make changes that I believe will make the situation better. I know that most members of law enforcement want to do their jobs fairly and without undue violence. But it's clear to all of us that local police - like many of us - have fallen short of what Americans expect from their government.
I will be encouraging the mayors of all major American cities to work to create civilian oversight boards for their local law enforcement departments. These boards should be given the ability to conduct independent investigations and issue public recommendations for disciplinary action when needed. We can no longer afford to have officers on the street who have been accused of multiple instances of misconduct without ever facing the consequences.
I will be asking Congress to amend 42 USC 1983 to repeal qualified immunity for law enforcement officials. This will allow victims' families to sue bad police officers. This move will also have the effect of incentivizing cities to hire and train good officers.
This week I will send proposed legislation to Congress that will overhaul the worst of our current laws regarding sentencing and imprisonment. This includes getting rid of the cash bonds that trap many defendants accused of minor crimes in jail for months or even years as they await trial. I will also ask our Justice Department to work to update and change current Federal sentencing guidelines that can often send people to jail for decades for relatively minor victimless crimes.
I also recognize that I don't have all the answers. I encourage others to reach out to my administration with suggestions on how we can work together to improve our criminal justice system and create a more just system for everyone.
We also need to heal the wounds that have been inflicted on our streets and our communities in recent days. While I recognize that rebuilding trust and returning our communities to normal will take some time, I am instituting some measures I believe will help assist that effort.
I am committing every resource of my administration to fully rebuilding the businesses and structures destroyed in this week's protests. I am asking Congress for an emergency package of grants, loans and other financial assistance that will be designed to repair our neighborhoods and return them to normal as quickly as possible. This package will also include financial incentives for larger corporations to rebuild their stores and businesses in their original locations as quickly as possible.
There is much more to do in the coming weeks and months and I will continue to work with both members of my party and my opponents to rebuild the shattered neighborhoods of our American cities. And to work with all of you to bridge the gaps between us and build the America that we all believe she can be.
I am not by nature a person of reflection. I believe in action and strength of character. But as I've watched the scenes of so many Americans crying out for help, asking for a better way forward, I have begun to realize that there are times in everyone's life when the best thing they can do is listen. And after listening, offer to work together to make things better.
I am listening now.
I believe in the promise of America and the ideal that all men and women are created equal. There are many times when we have not lived up that promise. When I have not lived up to the faith you put in me.
I cannot promise to be a perfect man. No one can. But I can promise to do better and to work with all of you towards the common goal of building an America that is both great and fair. And all I can ask in return is that all of you pledge to do the same.
The promise of America has been a beacon of hope in the world for hundreds of years. We owe it to ourselves to be better and to live up to the promise of everyone who came before us.
God bless all of you. And God bless America.