Statement by the Leadership Team, Dominican Sisters of Peace
In light of a guilty verdict handed down by a jury in the case of Officer Derek Chauvin, we feel a deep sadness for both the family of George Floyd and for Officer Chauvin. It is clear that police practice around the use of deadly force needs urgent and effective reform. There are countless instances where overreaction on the part of the police during routine police work has ended with the tragic death of an innocent person.
Fear and hatred are driving much of the violence in our society leading to needless death and destruction and heartache. Fear and hatred have especially put the African-American community (and any person of color) in an untenable position of constant defensiveness and anxiety. A person’s home is no longer considered a safe haven, and what may begin as a routine traffic stop may turn into a lethal encounter.
While the police must be given the resources and training to carry out their role in public safety, they cannot be permitted to exercise a militarized form of police work A fatal use of force should not be the first action on the part of any police officer, and in the vast majority of encounters, peaceful resolution does result, except when it comes to persons of color.
As we reflect on what might come now, we urge local police chiefs and civic leaders to work to de-escalate the fear and hatred in their local communities that leads to violence. Community building efforts need commitment and funding. We call for action to de-militarize the approach toward law enforcement by police departments
True peace is possible when citizens can feel safe from fear and when hatred gives way to understanding. Peace takes hard work and listening to one another. Are we tired enough of death? Are we ready to see each other with new eyes? With hearts that have broken so many times in so many families, when will we be ready to choose courage over fear? In the words of President Biden, “We cannot be a safe harbor for hate in this country.”
Dominican Sisters of Peace