April 21, 2021
Subject: Message from the RJTF Co-Chairs - A Reflection and an Update
Good afternoon RJTF colleagues and friends,
We will forever remember that we began the work of the task force following the horrific murder of George Floyd and as we near completion of this phase of our work – delivering the report to President Clark – a verdict of guilty on all three counts was reached in the trial of Derek Chauvin. The words of Minnesota’s Attorney General Keith Ellison are a reminder of all that still must come:
I encourage everyone to continue the journey to transformation and justice. It’s in your hands now [. . .] I also want to address the Floyd family, if I may. Over the last year, the family had to relive again and again the worst day of their lives when they lost their brother, their father, their friend [. . .] Although a verdict alone cannot end their pain, I hope it’s another first step on the long path toward healing for them.
Rodney King, Abner Louima, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Laquan McDonald, Stephon Clark, Atatiana Jefferson, Anton Black, Breonna Taylor, and now Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo. This has to end. We need true justice. That's not one case. That is a social transformation that says no one is beneath the law and no one is above it. This verdict reminds us that we must make enduring, systemic societal change.
The focus of our work has been examining how we make systemic change at BSU, you have provided findings and thoughtful recommendations to advance and support these changes. Over the last several days we have been continuing to weave all of your work into one final document. We have been or will be in touch with some of the subcommittees with clarifying questions – thank you in advance for your continued help – we have a few more to go.
Consistent with our task force meeting with President Clark and Provost Ismaili, they are looking forward to having an opportunity to thoroughly review the report and then engage the campus in discussion about next steps, including sharing the report. We will keep you posted regarding specific timelines but we do expect that this will take place in May after final exams and grades are submitted - this is so that this important end of year period can be navigated successfully and that the forums to share the report have the full attention they warrant and deserve. We have time set aside with President Clark next week – but for now we are sending him our thoughts and love as he and his family mourn the loss and celebrate the life of his father.
We thank you again for your commitment to equity and justice, your incredibly thoughtful and hard work, and the difference you make in our university, the lives of our students, and our hopes for a more just and inclusive future.
Thank you again,
Trustee, Bridgewater State University
Dr. Mary Grant
Senior Administrative Fellow for Civics and Social Justice
Dr. Carolyn Petrosino
Professor Emerita of Criminal Justice
Co-chairs, Special Presidential Task Force on Racial Justice