George Floyd – a father and family member, a colleague and friend to many – should be alive today. We must encourage and protect the rights of all to grieve, unite in peaceful protests and publicly demand justice for his tragic death. However, we also must condemn damaging personal property, arson and looting in our commercial districts and neighborhoods. These outrageous acts tragically perpetrate more injustice on the innocent. Many small and minority-owned businesses have been especially hard hit.

We have extraordinarily challenging and critical work ahead of us. We must reimagine and recreate our community as one that rejects systemic and structural racism and one that is just and equitable for all. St. Thomas will be a catalyst and leader in this work.

Our immediate task is to protect our community and neighbors. I am very concerned that many of our St. Thomas community are living in the very neighborhoods most impacted by the frightening events of the last two evenings. I encourage everyone in our St. Thomas community to heed the calls of our governor and community leaders and to abide by the 8 p.m. curfew this evening and to use your networks and social media outlets to encourage others to do the same. I also encourage you to reach out to older or vulnerable neighbors and ask them what they need tonight and in the coming days. We are stronger as a community when we collaborate and care for one another.

For tonight: Stay home, be safe and stand together in honoring the memory of George Floyd.

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