Witnessing the dying moments of George Floyd on TV while he was in the custody of Minneapolis Police, the very people who are supposed to protect all its citizens, we saw that Mr. Floyd was gasping for breath and saying, "Please, I can’t breathe." A sense of anger and helplessness came upon us as we couldn’t believe this was really happening. When we heard the report that he was pronounced dead at the hospital, our hearts broke for the family of George Floyd and to all our Black brothers and sisters who suffer incidences like this way too often. We are a Roman Catholic community of Women Religious, beneficiaries of white privilege. We are saddened and alarmed by the many manifestations of racism that is demonstrated by incidents such as this in our country.
We are Sisters of Divine Providence of the Marie de la Roche Province. We and our Associates and Partners in ministry, work for Justice in Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Illinois, North Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, Missouri and Massachusetts. We were founded in 1851 by Bishop Wilhelm Emmanuel von Ketteler of Germany who confronted civil and ecclesiastical authority when needed, risking his authority and reputation in the pursuit of justice. In his spirit we can do no less.
We respect and support the rights of all those who are trying to conduct peaceful demonstrations in honor of George Floyd and calling for reform in the way our police systems throughout the U.S. handle arrest cases. We are dismayed by the violence and destruction that some demonstrators are displaying.
We call on our civil authorities - the state governments, the mayors of our cities, police departments - throughout our country to scrutinize and reform the way police officers are trained and to ban all use of excessive force to nonviolent, compliant suspects in custody - applied equally to Blacks and Whites.
We invite you all to pray with us for the reform needed to make our make our country a more just society for all peoples who live here.
Sisters of Divine Providence Leadership Team