Today a jury began their deliberation to decide whether the police officer who held his knee on George Floyd’s neck for over 8 minutes acted outside the bounds of normal policing and should be held accountable for his death. After following the trial, hearing the witnesses, watching the video, we now anxiously await their decision with a pit in our stomach. This horrific case has sparked a sea of spirited citizenship and simultaneously imposed a mountain of both old and new trauma for so many people.
As we watched the gripping testimonials of the trial, we were all abruptly shaken by another police shooting when Daunte Wright was killed during a traffic stop just a suburb away. Then, just days later, we witnessed the release of a video showing a 13-year old boy, Adam Toledo, in the moments before police fatally shot him in Chicago.
There isn't enough mental or emotional bandwidth to continually take in this trauma, especially for our students. The burden of processing feelings of hurt, anguish, and anxiety is heavy. Please know that our hearts are with you. We are committed to supporting students and families through these tragedies.
In a matter of hours, or days, or weeks, we will see if the reckoning of the past year on race and policing results in some form of proper accountability in this particular case, and maybe some hope for broader reform in our future. An acquittal however, may bring overwhelming feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. These feelings are familiar here in Cleveland, where 12-year old Tamir Rice's life was cut short, and the police officer who shot him lives free.
The verdict in Minneapolis will feel like ‘all or nothing,’ whatever the result. Nevertheless, we will continue to move forward with love and support for your children, including continuing to engage in our individual and organizational equity work.
If there is one thing we have learned through this pandemic, every family has different circumstances and needs in times of crisis. We certainly do not pretend to have the answers, but we will be there for our students in whatever ways they may need. Here are two resources that might help as families grapple with these discussions at home:
Link to a reading of "Something Happened in Our Town" by Marianne Celano: YouTube lcOhOFGcWm8
Link to Common Sense Media "How to Talk With Kids About Racism and Racial Violence": www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/how-to-talk-with-kids-about-racism-and-racial-violence
Please let us know if you or your child may need some additional supports during this time.
The Intergenerational Schools