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Gov. Newsom Wrestles With Explaining George Floyd Unrest To Tearful Children

SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — Like all parents, Gov. Gavin Newsom has wrestled with how to explain what has been unfolding with the video-taped death of George Floyd while in police custody and the violent unrest it has triggered to his young children.

Newsom, who is the father of four, began his Friday update on the state’s ongoing battle with the coronavirus by addressing Floyd’s death in Minneapolis and the violent unrest it has triggered.

“The Bible teaches us we are many parts, but one body. And when one part suffers, we all suffer. I was reminded of those words today, yesterday and the day before as I reflected — in a very poignant way — on what happened tragically a few days ago to George Floyd,” he said.

The governor went on to describe being grabbed by his children as he arrived at home, in their pajamas and tearful about videos they had seen regarding Floyd on the social media site TikTok and wanting to talk about what happened.

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“My son, eight years old, said ‘It’s not just wrong Dad. It’s worse than wrong, because bad people are supposed to be bad, but good people are supposed to be good. That’s what makes this wrong,'” explained Newsom as he described how upset and confused all four of his children were trying to come to grips with the incident, much as the entire nation was trying to come to grips with it.

The governor went on to talk about recognizing the differences of race and class and privilege and the challenge of making real change in society to get closer to true equality.

“I’ve been in elected office for decades now. Program passing, passing a law, you’re not solving problems. You’ve got to change culture. You’ve got to change people’s hearts and minds. It’s not just laws on the books. We have to fundamentally change who we are and recognize what we are capable of being,” said Newsom.

He acknowledged what he sees as the fundamental problem of being a nation that values power and aggression over caring and compassion and understands the public’s anger and fear over the incident in Minneapolis.

Newsom became emotional as talked about the fact that California had passed AB 392, the state’s landmark use of force bill, exactly a year ago on Friday and called on all Californians to work together to fight inequality and structural racism in society.

“We have to be more resolved than ever to do more and be better as human beings, as parents, as leaders in our own right, and model better behavior and make — in the spirit of Dr. King and Kennedy — to make more gentle the life of this world,” said Newsom as he choked up with emotion. “We’re all bound together in a web of mutuality. We’re all in this together. There’s no leak on your side of our boat. So in the spirit of the commonwealth, in that spirit that defines the best of our state and the best of our nation and what we promote and what we promise, I hope we can all practice a little bit more.”

As far as protests over Floyd’s death, Newsom acknowledged there would likely be more unrest across the state over the weekend, but asked for those protesting to be mindful.

“I pray that all of us that want to express ourselves do so thoughtfully and gently, but forcefully, in terms of expressing themselves as they should and as they must,” said the governor.