HU Statement on the George Floyd Murder
The following letter was sent to the campus community by President Huntington.
June 1, 2020
Since the abhorrent, brutal, and indefensible public murder of Mr. George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis on Memorial Day, we have witnessed peaceful protests and violent outbreaks in cities large and small across our country. I am sickened and saddened by seeing another restrained and defenseless black man killed by police officers who are supposed to serve and protect all citizens all the time.
I am also angry and frustrated that the vast majority of people from all backgrounds who are protesting peacefully across the nation with rightful outrage over the systemic and perpetual racial injustice in our society are being swept into violent and dangerous situations caused by a much smaller number of individuals with other agendas such as vandalism, looting, harm to others, and perpetuating the very evils of racism that harm and brutalize all non-white members of our society. Their bad actions raise the risk and danger to the protesters who are marching, standing, and sitting for a good and just cause.
At this horribly painful and nearly paralyzing moment in American history, one that has also seen how the COVID-19 global pandemic and economic crisis has wreaked far greater death and devastation on people of color and people of low economic means because this virus is feeding off the same systemic injustice, we must ask ourselves: Where is the moral high ground and sense of shared humanity that all decent human beings should embrace together?
We must stand on that higher ground as one community to embrace one humanity.
With the deepest sense of conviction, I joined my Ohio Athletic Conference president colleagues yesterday in signing a statement denouncing racism, sexism, discrimination, and violence that is too frequently taking place in our country.
The statement read, in part: “As a proud Division III athletic conference of the NCAA representing 10 Ohio schools with outstanding students, faculty, staff, and alumni, we stand ready to continue to strengthen and to change, as necessary, our campus cultures to promote inclusion and equity.”
This statement is 100 percent consistent with Heidelberg’s educational philosophy and values of being a welcoming, diverse, and inclusive community.
Our contemporary world is changing. We need to change it more. The events in Minneapolis and elsewhere over the past week, and the violent protests that have spread across our country, are a dark reminder that there remain individuals in our country who do not respect, do not understand, and do not accept diverse races, ethnicities, cultures, religions, and lifestyles. We will not allow Heidelberg University to ever become part of that hatred, injustice, and inhumanity.
As a community of learning and growth, we have worked hard to understand and embrace diversity, equity, inclusion, and acceptance of all people at our institution. We recognize that as human beings of one earth, we are not perfect. We have work to do, and we are committed to doing it. Any act of racism, sexism, discrimination, or violence that contradicts the core values of our University will not be tolerated.
In these times when there is a growing undercurrent of pain, division, and anger, let us all search for hope. Be kind to one another. Stand up to hatred and injustice whenever and wherever it happens. If you choose to lend your voice to a protest, please do so with a mindset of creating peace, justice, respect, fairness, and equality to achieve a better world for everyone.
I share with you these words of Martin Luther King Jr. that seem more relevant than ever: Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
My heart goes out to the entire Floyd family for the profound loss they are suffering and the brutality they must view repeatedly in the news. Minneapolis is my birthplace too.
Let us all be a beacon of light, of love, and of hope during these turbulent and horribly disturbing times.
Sincerely and respectfully,