We are all experiencing a time in our nation in which the fight against a health pandemic has been supplanted by a crisis of human behavior, with racist acts of violence so vile and so systematic as to test our limits of comprehension.
With three members of the Minneapolis Police Department negligently observing, another police officer held George Floyd to the pavement and pressed his knee to his victim’s neck with a callous disregard until he stopped breathing. Despite Mr. Floyd’s strangled pleas and the screams of onlookers, the officers ignored any expression of human decency and let him die on the street.
Extreme acts of hatred across our country are unfortunately all too familiar. But when they occur while we should be joining together to face the greatest global health threat in memory, it borders on the unimaginable.
Millions in our country tonight will mourn and many millions will speak out, not only over the death of George Floyd but also the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. These acts of mourning and protest against racism are a natural response to social injustice and ISU is a community that welcomes the civil discourse among our students, faculty, and staff that can only serve to make our society a better place, and the right of our campus citizens to speak out.
As President of Illinois State, I have pledged to work harder to make ours a campus that embraces the humanity, the gifts, and the diverse contributions of each and every individual who joins the Redbird community. There is no room on our campus for bigotry and hatred, and I ask each of you to embrace and carry out ISU’s core values of fostering an inclusive environment characterized by cultural understanding and engagement, ethical behavior, and a commitment to social justice.
Under different circumstances, actions on campus might have included a march, rally, candlelight vigil, or town hall-style meeting in the Bone Student Center. Unfortunately, the time of year and limits of the COVID-19 pandemic make those types of actions difficult.
For faculty, staff, and students who remain in Normal-Bloomington, I encourage you to attend a community gathering of concerned citizens tomorrow at 5 p.m. at the McLean County Law and Justice Center in Bloomington. I am sure those of you reading this will find similar opportunities wherever you are currently living.
If illness, or concerns about social distancing keep you inside of your homes, I urge you to make your voices heard across social media platforms, and to also keep the names of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor in your thoughts, and in your hearts.
On behalf of the University community, I extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. We join in mourning their tragic deaths.