After George Floyd’s murder, a symbolic line was drawn in the sand and we were expected to choose a side. Stand on the side that turns a blind eye to the actions of racist police officers against Black people or, in the name of justice and humanity, stand with Black people who are far too often targeted by and victims of racist police practices.
We knew there was but one side. Our values at Ascentria – courage, compassion, and integrity - guide that choice.
Our courage demands that we not accept the status quo. Too many Black people have needlessly lost their lives due to overly aggressive police tactics: Freddie Gray, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and just recently Daunte Wright, to name a few. It feels like a crime itself that we can’t list, in remembrance, all the victims - those who were spotlighted in the media because video captured their brutal treatment and, even more tragically, those who were killed in the absence of witnesses who could raise their silenced voices.
Our compassion for all human life urges us to stand with those who are inhumanely treated or who die at the hands of those who have malice in their hearts and do not respect human life regardless of race. If the words “I can’t breathe” are uttered, what other possible action is there, but to help them breathe? We condemn any action to the contrary.
Our integrity calls for a justice system that is honest and shows a consistent and uncompromising adherence to strong moral and ethical principles and values. Clearly, our system does not embody integrity for all. This is not only un-American, it is immoral.
We want to also recognize the Minnesota citizen witnesses who courageously spoke up, recorded, and testified their truths under great emotional trauma and the twelve brave men and women on the jury who showed courage, compassion, and integrity when given the Herculean responsibility to follow the facts of this case and come to a just decision.
We acknowledge that the majority of police officers are dedicated to protecting and serving all people regardless of race. We applaud and thank them for their service. We thank them for their commitment to “protect and to serve” ensuring that everyone goes home – alive and safe. We stand with them.
We strongly agree with the words of Attorney General Keith Ellison who said, "I would not call today's verdict justice, however, because justice implies true restoration, but it is accountability which is the first step towards justice. We need true justice. That's not one case. That is a social transformation that says that nobody's beneath the law and nobody's above it." This verdict is reason to celebrate, but we must recognize that this point in time is part of a lengthy, ongoing journey to fight systemic injustice. Together, we must and will persist in forging a path forward where everyone’s safety and inherent right to justice are protected.