SENATORS, DO THE RIGHT THING
As grown-ups, you probably did not read the article about the attack on our democracy in the New York Times Magazine for kids. But you should. Here are some excerpts:
"When Donald Trump was president, he told a very big lie. And he told it many times. He said he had won the presidential election against Joe Biden, which was not true. He insisted that the election results, which showed he had lost by more than seven million votes, were 'rigged' or purposely interfered with to make Biden come out on top.
Many adults believed this lie. And on Jan. 6, thousands of those believers came to Washington, where Trump repeated his lie yet again at a rally and told them to go to the U.S. Capitol building. That's where members of Congress were about to formally confirm the results of the election so that Biden could officially become president on Jan. 20...
If you were watching these events on TV, or heard about them later from your parents or others, you may have felt afraid. Many people did. Inside the Capitol building that day, lawmakers felt afraid. When the mob broke in, they had to run to safety: some of the rioters had guns, and others were threatening to kill people."
Our kids understand. And as senators, you know the truth. But 57 million American citizens still believe Trump's lies. Some are still motivated by those lies and may commit more acts of violence.
You are among the few leaders in this country who are in a position to speak truth to that group of misguided true believers. The impeachment trial will offer you an opportunity to challenge the evils of presidential lies, racism, white supremacy, insane conspiracy theories and violence.
If you feel you must vote to acquit Trump on procedural grounds, be courageous enough to share the truth about the election with the 57 million, even if you believe you might lose their support in the future. If you remain silent, malicious divisions will only grow deeper. Our democracy is fragile.
Do the right thing.
MAKE IT FAIR
The Pretrial Fairness Act protects poor people from the criminal justice system. Governor JB Pritzker should sign this act into law, because it is long overdue. Over the years, poor people and people of color have been unjustly treated because of their financial status. They can't afford a bond, so they are left in jail and criminalized before they even go to court. Most of those in jails are poor people who have been victimized and exploited by the criminal justice system because of the cash bond system.
We must remember that in America, we are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. This right of due process comes from the Constitution. Money should not be the determining factor for people to be treated fairly. This right has been denied by the police, prosecutors and judges from all over the country. Poor people who are not educated and do not have money to hire lawyers end up being abused and become victims of this unfair practice. There are examples of people who have spent years in jail awaiting a trial to prove their innocence. People have been put on a GPS ankle bracelet and forced to pay $10 a day until they can have a trial, which can be months or years away. These practices are wrong and unconstitutional.
Passing this act will correct a broken system and allow people to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. This new law will prevent poor people from taking a please deal to prevent being locked up without proof of guilt. I feel the Pretrial Fairness Act is the beginning of many steps in the right direction to reform the criminal justice system and recommend the governor sign the act into law.
Roy Williams Jr.
President, Faith Coalition for the Common Good