Last summer, at the height of the pandemic and economic uncertainty, the heart-wrenching killing of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police office sworn to protect and serve sparked national protests, civil unrest and a national reckoning with racism that was a long time coming. Yet even as the protests slowed, Black and Latino men continued to die on the street, including the killing of Daunte Wright and 13-year-old Adam Toledo by officers during the trial itself.
Today’s conviction of the officer who killed George Floyd is a significant step toward the justice and reform needed in our criminal justice system, in many disproportionately affected neighborhoods, and in our own hearts. We pray that today’s decision continues to turn our nation toward change where we clearly see that the root of many of the injustices across America and the world—especially those that affect the most vulnerable in our society and which include environmental degradation—is the sin of racism.
“Racism obscures the evils of the past and denies the burdens that history has placed upon the shoulders of our black, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian brothers and sisters. An honest look at the past makes plain the need for restitution wherever possible - makes evident the justice of restoration and redistribution,” the U.S. Catholic Bishops said in 1979.
More than 40 years after this bishops’ statement, and after today’s conviction, our work to right this wrong continues. Catholic Climate Covenant is currently one of the partners in a 21-day challenge to learn, think and act courageously on the issue of environmental justice – where Black, Latino, Native America, and Asian communities consistently suffer the worst and first effects of climate change and other forms of environmental degradation.
May today’s conviction serve as a reminder that until we choose to do something about it, we are all guilty or complicit in the conditions that lead to systemic racism and its far-reaching and devastating effects. We are all connected, and we must practice true human solidarity with the neighbor across the street, or across the world.
-- Dan Misleh
Catholic Climate Covenant