It is with great sorrow and despair that we learned about the death of a man identified as George Floyd in Minneapolis, under the knee of a white police officer, on Monday, May 25, the national Memorial Day holiday of remembrance.
Maybe you can watch the video here at https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/man-dies-after-pleading-i-can-t-breathe-during-arrest-n1214586. If you can't view this recording of a killing, the article describes the documentation of Mr. Floyd's death. Another black man's life, literally crushed out of him. Already handcuffed and on the ground, Mr. Floyd begs for his breath, for his life, as do the people around the scene. Yet, this arrest leads to his needless death.
We are heartbroken. We represent the Criminal Justice Task Force of RocACTS, a community organization in Rochester, New York dedicated to dismantling structural racism and focusing on education, poverty and jobs, and criminal justice, and the Criminal Justice Ministry First Unitarian Church in Rochester, along with many similarly dedicated individuals and organizations. It is our human responsibility to stand with the heartbroken community, family and nation as we witness yet another incomprehensible event in the long history of injustice, abuse and excessive force wielded against black men, women and children by authorities sworn to serve and protect and by vigilantes who take matters into their own weapon holding hands.
We say, how can this happen again? We cry out in protest. We agonize in our hearts.
And it happens again, senselessly, heartlessly, wrongfully. We weep with the family, with the community, and with each other. We say, again, not one more time, knowing this is not the last time we will witness such brutality.
We offer our condolences to Minneapolis, to Mr. Floyd's family and friends, and to all who grieve this senseless loss. We support the decision by the Chief of Police, Medaria Arradondo, to terminate the employment of four involved officers and to pursue an ongoing investigation. We, along with you, demand justice. We demand change. We demand an end to the insanity that allows a public servant to ignore a man's dying pleas.
In solidarity and for peace,
Gayle Harrison, PhD
Rochester Alliance of Communities Transforming Society, Inc.
Kathleen FitzPatrick and Shanique Byrd, Co-Chairs, Criminal Justice Task Force, RocACTS
Penny Townsend-Quill and Roberta Buckle, Co-Chairs, Criminal Justice Ministry, First Unitarian Church, Rochester, NY
Rochester Alliance for Communities Transforming Society
A Federation of Faith in Action
121 Fitzhugh Street North
Rochester, NY 14614