Dear ADL Southwest Community,
A perhaps unfortunate habit I’ve developed in the technological age is checking the news on my phone as soon as I wake up. The morning after Memorial Day I viewed the video which literally set our nation on fire. Still in bed, I watched the first few horrifying minutes wondering if I was in fact, awake. From the Rodney King beating to the more recent shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, we’d seen images of the ill-treatment of blacks in our country but never had we witnessed footage of the agonizing, viscerally up-close killing of a handcuffed black man pleading for his life.
George Floyd grew up and lived in Houston until 2014, when he moved to Minneapolis. His six-year old daughter and other family members continue to call our city home. When former Officer Derek Chauvin forcibly kneeled on his neck for nearly eight minutes while three officers watched, a tragedy unfolded that impacted not only the Twin Cities and the Third Ward of Floyd’s youth, but the consciousness of every city in America.
While the racism inherent in Floyd’s death is centuries old, social media’s virality casts an illuminating yet combustible light upon double-standard policing and institutional discrimination. ADL, an agency that has stood for justice and fair treatment for all since its founding in 1913, stands in solidarity with the Black community as they yet again are subject to pain and suffering at the hands of a racist and unjust system. Chauvin’s arrest represents a necessary first step towards justice, but as the horrifying cell phone footage reveals, the three other former officers should also be held fully responsible for their actions.
Justice for George Floyd is merely the beginning. Systemic injustice and inequality require systemic change. The coronavirus pandemic, the recent explosion of racist murders and the divisiveness spurred on by reprehensible comments made at the highest levels of government hurt vulnerable communities of color the most. ADL will continue to support communities most deeply impacted and continue to speak out against racism, antisemitism, xenophobia, hate and discrimination of all kinds. We will advocate for anti-racist police practices, as well as call for the removal of officers who have track records of unnecessary force or are affiliated with racist hate groups
The city that once again sent people into space will bury its native son George Floyd almost 60 years after a Mercury capsule named Freedom 7 completed the human spaceflight. Let us choose the fire ignited by our power to solve problems over the fire to burn our cities. We best honor George Floyd’s memory by committing ourselves to perform the hard work of advocating for change that systematically addresses inequities and delivers the freedom for black individuals to walk, ride, work and live without fear of assault and death by virtue of the color of their skin. Let’s begin that work today, so all of us can wake up — in a better tomorrow.
ADL Southwest Regional Director