In recent days, the death of George Floyd has become a tragic story and sparked outrage across the United States of America. The 46 year old black American from Minneapolis, Minnesota died last week after police office Derek Chauvin pinned him down with his knee for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the last 2 minutes and 53 seconds of which Floyd was unresponsive after previously telling the officer he couldn’t breath. After news over his death became a national story, Chauvin was fired and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Protests and calls for change in our society, specifically against systematic racism and police brutality, have dominated the news cycle in the past few days.
Rutgers Athletic Director Pat Hobbs issued a statement from his Twitter account on Sunday night (May 31) regarding the tragedy and response to it.
The full statement can be read here:
“Dear Student-Athletes, Coaches and Staff:
This is supposed to be the time of year for celebrations. As thousands of young people graduate high school and college, this is supposed to be a time when we think about the great possibilities that lie ahead for them. This is a team when our hopes for the future should be at their highest. Even during our greatest healthcare crisis, technology is providing us with ways to connect, be together, celebrate, and hope. But because of what’s happening in Minneapolis, and many other communities across our nation, other emotions are also being felt - pain, anger and frustration.
On Friday, we celebrated the graduation of over one hundred of our student athletes. It was a remote but beautiful celebration. For me the poignant part, indeed of any graduation, was the announcement of each student’s name. I sat at home and heard each name recited and watched them on screen pictured in their cap and gowns, resplendent, full of academic and athletic accomplishment. Another thought kept repeating - God I hope the world becomes a better place for you, and because of you.
We must do something. What happened this week, last month, last decade, since our founding, is the result of a failure of leadership and national will. The promise of America remains great. This remains a land of great opportunity. But the promise and path to achieving all that America has to offer is not the same for everyone. Today we live in a country where racism and brutality are increasingly tolerated, even encouraged. Combined with growing social and economic inequality, America today is not achieving its founding purpose as a place where “all men are created equal.” Those words were not true then, and remain aspirational today.
In the weeks ahead I will be reaching out to our student athletes, coaches and staff to begin exploring ideas about what we can do. I can’t pretend to fully appreciate the weight and pain our students of color feel because of these events. Nor do I have any ready answers. But I know I speak for everyone in our department when I say we must do our part to bend the arc toward justice and equality.
I continue to hope and believe that we can all make a difference delivering the promise of America to everyone. We owe that to those tragically lost throughout our history. We owe that to our amazing talented student athletes whose graduation we celebrated this past Friday, and in the years to come.”