In Maryland’s largest county, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and the Montgomery County Council offered their support surrounding local protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.
In a letter to the community, county leaders said they “fully support” the constitutional rights of their residents to express their views with without fear of bodily harm by police.
“The demand for equity, justice and respect sweeping our nation must also be understood in the context of the lack of national leadership to unite America,” the letter said.
The letter mentions that the county and its police department will continue to respect protesters and work together to provide an environment for memorials, rallies and nonviolent protests.
Following peaceful displays during gatherings in Germantown, Gaithersburg and Silver Spring, county leadership is hopeful that continued dialogue will lead to establishing a safer community.
“We are committed to ongoing engagement and collaboration with all our community members to continue the difficult conversations about the state of race relations in our country and here at home in Montgomery County,” the letter said.
In the past year, Montgomery County has looked to address police conduct following the shooting death of Robert White in 2018. It approved the creation of a police advisory panel that would recommend new policies after looking over policing reports and audits.
Late last year, the county also enacted the Law Enforcement Trust and Transparency Act, where “an independent law enforcement entity” is hired to investigate a officer-related death, and its findings would be made public.
In early May, Montgomery County police released the officer body camera footage of the shooting death of Finan Berhe. Sgt. David Cohen fired five shots at Berthe, who was shown holding a knife. Cohen, 17-year veteran, was placed on paid administrative leave while an investigation is conducted.
“We know that these losses have devastated the families of these men and our community,” the statement said. “These protests are important so that the community can express their sense of loss and concerns as well as advocate for change.”