Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey (D.) on Tuesday refused to denounce the violent riots occurring nationwide, likening them to the purifying effects of a forest fire.
"Yes, America is burning, but that's how forests grow," Healey said in a speech delivered to the Boston Chamber of Commerce.
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Healey, who is also the co-chair of the Democratic Attorneys General Association, repeated her remarks in a tweet later the same day, adding that Americans need to "seize the opportunity" to rid the country of "institutionalized racism," which she blamed for the violence.
Today in my address to the @bostonchamber, I spoke about how we must seize the opportunity we have right now to build anew in ways that rid us of the institutionalized racism that’s led to America burning today. pic.twitter.com/bJSXMahHyy
— Maura Healey (@maura_healey) June 2, 2020
Republican Attorneys General Association chairman Jeff Landry called on Healey to renounce her statement shortly after, criticizing her for "inflammatory rhetoric."
"Maura Healey’s inflammatory rhetoric is part of the problem, not a solution," Landry said. "An AG is elected to uphold the rule of law and protect life and property, not to violate their oath and incite additional violence by inflaming emotions and condoning lawlessness. AG Healey has an obligation to quell fear, not incite further damage and destruction."
Landry affirmed that all who seek to harm or kill "must be held accountable" during this time.
"The wrongful death of any innocent life is a tragedy. That includes George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, and now the numerous law enforcement officers and business owners who have been killed or assaulted as a result of these riots and domestic terrorism. Criminal elements have infiltrated peaceful protests, and those individuals breaking the law must be held accountable," he said.
Healey's remarks come after a week of protests in cities nationwide sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed as a white police officer pinned him to the ground and refused to let him get back up.
The protests have taken a violent turn by night in many of America's cities. Businesses have been ransacked, cars and homes have been set ablaze, and cultural sites have been defaced.
In Minneapolis, where George Floyd was killed and the protests began last week, fires consumed cars, businesses, and homes last weekend, and the city's 3rd Precinct headquarters was set ablaze by protesters.
On Sunday night in Washington, D.C., some protesters set the historic St. John's Church on fire, which stands a block from the White House. The fires were doused before any damage was done to the main sanctuary, but the church's nursery was destroyed.