On the death of George Floyd
A message from Governor Jay Inslee.
Dear fellow state employee,
People across our state and nation are justifiably outraged at the killing of George Floyd. Our communities are heartbroken and angry. I am furious too. It is incumbent on all of us to push for justice and to hold our current institutions of power and privilege responsible. We all have a responsibility to work for meaningful, systemic change – including myself.
It’s difficult for me to process how we are yet again mourning the loss of a Black man at the hands of a white police officer. We have seen this happen over and over, and our communities are not only angry; they are tired and struggling with a profound sense of grief. There is more we can and must do to channel the grief, energy and momentum of this moment to ensure the freedom and safety of all Washingtonians.
There is still so much work to be done. Each one of us must take personal responsibility for change, and, as governor, I am deeply committed to doing that. We need more education about systemic racism in our society. For those of us who are not subjected to prejudice and discrimination, we need to be honest with ourselves about our privilege and the need to be better allies.
I want to make clear that protest is to be honored and respected. Washingtonians can and should exercise their constitutionally-protected rights. We must condemn violence and destruction, but we cannot allow the actions of a few to distract us from the true purpose of these demonstrations, nor should we allow them to diminish the cry for justice. The vast majority of protesters have been peaceful, and they have a right to have their voices be heard.
Some of our fellow state workers have been on the front lines, and for that I thank them. The Washington State Patrol, the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Washington National Guard are all assisting with local response efforts. The state is committed to supporting community safety, and we will do so while giving space to the thousands of Washingtonians who are peacefully demanding accountability and change.
These uncomfortable conversations will require action outside of our comfort zones, but until we are willing to look at our own shortcomings and the role we play in maintaining the status quo, we cannot collectively heal or fully attain our goal of a more just and equitable future for everyone. If you are in need of additional support or help as you process the recent events, please contact the Employee Assistance Program, which is a free and confidential program for all state employees.
In closing, I want to share a quote from Sen. Robert Kennedy on the night that Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered in 1968. These words have been inspiring to me since the day I first heard them, and I can think of no better way for us to approach the days ahead.
“What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country...”
Very truly yours,
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