School of Social Work Director Releases Statement Addressing the Death of George Floyd

June 5, 2020

The brutal murder of Mr. George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement in Minneapolis is a shocking affront to everything decent and humane within us.

What is clear is that the officers responsible valued their authority to subdue and control Mr. Floyd more than they valued his life, which they ended with obscenely casual indifference.

The bitter truth is that the lives of Black and Brown people have not mattered much for over 400+ years in America, when the Founders defined them as less than fully human; when we shattered their families as husbands and wives were separated and children were torn from their parents to be sold as property; when we hounded them out of our neighborhoods and voting booths when they attempted to exercise their rights to own a home or to vote; and when we denied them full access to education and jobs. But the lives of Black people mattered least of all in their contact with law enforcement, the courts, and corrections where countless men, women, and children have been ruthlessly and harshly treated or worse: murdered, as was Mr. Floyd.

The anguished cries of our Black and Brown brothers and sisters echo across the centuries, begging for justice and peace, or begging for breath, a drop of water, or a beloved mother, as did Mr. Floyd.

Together, we the faculty, staff, and students of the LSU School of Social Work and Child and Family Studies hear those cries and will respond. We reaffirm our longstanding commitment to advance social justice, inclusion, and well-being for all. Over the last several days, the leadership of the School examined our current plans and curriculum and talked together about necessary actions and proactive responses to this crisis of justice in American. We immediately joined with the leadership of schools of social work across the country in planning a national racial justice summit. We refer you to the 2019 book written by our colleague, Dr. Cassandra Chaney, Police Use of Excessive Force against African Americans: Historical Antecedents and Community Perceptions. In the coming days and weeks we will have more to share with you about our response to this pivotal moment in America.

Now, out of respect and mourning for Mr. George Floyd, his family, and all victims of systemic and individual violence and oppression we pause, to take vain words and empty platitudes out of our mouths; we rend the garments of our privilege and acknowledge our complicity in the brutal treatment of our brothers and sisters; we kneel, broken and contrite, covered in the ashes of our regret and shame; and when we rise, it will be with renewed resolve to work with our Black and Brown brothers and sisters to bring about peace and justice in their lives, in our communities, and in our country until we can all speak the truth that Black Lives Matter.