You are here

MHR Student Statement in Response to the Murder of George Floyd

In Solidarity with Our Greiving and Mobilized Community
June 3, 2020

Justice for George Floyd

Justice for George Floyd
Justice for George Floyd

To our communities,

The murder of George Floyd on May 25th has left an indelible stain on our Minneapolis community. The video which captures Mr. Floyd's cries of, "I CAN'T BREATHE, I CAN'T BREATHE," in his final moments will haunt us forever.

The treatment to which Mr. Floyd was subjected was not only criminal and inhumane, but a gross violation of his human rights. In those last moments Mr. Floyd was stripped of his right to life, his right to liberty and his right to be free from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. His family and loved ones lost their right to liberty, their right to happiness and their right to enjoy the beauty of life with a family member.

George Floyd's murder at the hands of four Minneapolis Police Officers was a disgraceful and criminal act, which showed a complete disregard for Mr. Floyd’s humanity and his rights, and we, as current and past students of the Masters of Human Rights program at the University of Minnesota, demand that the officers involved be brought to justice and held accountable for their crimes.

We would like to provide our support and thanks to Mr. Floyd’s family and the protesters here in Minnesota who have refused to allow George Floyd’s name to be forgotten, and who are continuing to hold our elected officials accountable for the fact that those complicit in Mr. Floyd’s murder remain at large.

Furthermore, we also want to lift up the manner in which so many people within our community have come together in the wake of this tragedy. We want to celebrate the efforts of the Minnesota Freedom Fund, Reclaim the Block, The Minneapolis NAACP and the multitude of other organizations and local level organizers who have been so diligently fighting for justice throughout this past week.

While the attention of mainstream media outlets has been elsewhere, people across the Twin Cities have shown immense love, support, and compassion for one another. We have seen communities self-policing. We have watched thousands of people coming together to clean up the streets and begin the rebuilding process of our most impacted communities. We have witnessed an incalculable outpouring of food and monetary donations to organizations seeking to support people and neighborhoods at this time. These actions are proof of our communities’ considerable strength, resilience, and humanity. However, these immediate actions are only part of the long-term efforts necessary to facilitate lasting change in the United States.

Sadly, Mr. Floyd's death represents only a small fraction of the larger and broader issue of systemic racism which has festered within American society and its institutions for generations. The murder stands also as a reminder of the systematic oppression and deplorable treatment which Black people across the United States are consistently subjected to at the hands of law enforcement. From Trayvon Martin, to Tamir Rice, to Sandra Bland, to Breonna Taylor and now George Floyd, the list of Black people who have lost their lives unjustly at the hands of law enforcement in the United States is exhaustive and highlights the grim reality in which Black people must live every day.

To that end, we as a cohort join together to call upon our leaders in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs,The College of Liberal Arts, The University of Minnesota, and our elected officials to work with us in the pursuit of justice and in striving to prevent a murder, like that of George Floyd, from ever tormenting our community again.

Within the coming weeks, we as a program will take the time to reflect upon what we can do, before providing a more detailed outline of the specific steps that we will be taking as we work towards systematically dismantling the White Supremacist superstructure within the United States which has allowed such tragedies to become an all-too-present occurrence.

At this time, we are demanding the Humphrey School of Public Affairs take accountability, responsibility and action to ensure they are continually addressing, responding and working to ensure human rights are upheld in our communities by:

  • Denouncing state sanctioned police violence in Minneapolis and on our campus through the Disarm UMPD efforts made by our peers in student organizations.
  • Ensure we are centering community voices and actively elevating their work through our human rights and public policy institution.
  • Actively doing anti-racist work by having our programs add a racial justice curriculum.

We Want Justice. We Demand Justice. And we stand--not only in solidarity, but in anger, in hope, and in resilience--with all who are fighting to attain Justice for George Floyd and guarantee that the basic human rights of all Black People across the United States are honored and championed.

In solidarity and love, Master of Human Rights Students and Alumni

Paul Olubayo, 2020  - Sarah Allis, 2020 - Vanesa Mercado Diaz, 2021 - Helena Bruce, 2020 - Karen Chonofsky, 2020 - Mikyla Denney, 2021 - Chris Grathwol, 2021 - Bailey Sutter, 2021 - Katie Burke, 2020 - Catherine Lawler Turnbull, 2020 - Calla Brown, 2020 - Maryam Ahmed, 2019 - Hunter Johnson, 2020 - Joy Hammer, 2020 - Yolanda Burckhardt, 2021 - Raven Ziegler, 2020 - Paige McLain, 2021 - Hannah Shireman, 2020 - Sarah Krueger, 2021 - Ta’Mara Hill, 2021 - Annakarina Rincón, 2018 - Iván López Justiniano, 2019 - Alyce Eaton, 2019 - Shelby Ankrom, 2019 - Jacqulyn Meyer Kantack, 2018 - Alli Strong-Martin, 2019 - Hayley Drozdowski, 2019 - Gonxhe Kandri, 2020 - Channing Bendtsen, 2020 - Nonkululeko Shongwe, 2021