June 1, 2020
It’s hard to remember a time in our nation’s history more tragic and emotionally exhausting than the moment we currently find ourselves in. This year had barely gotten underway before the COVID-19 pandemic took thousands of lives, gutted a robust economy, and brought normal life to a standstill. Communities of color have been hit especially hard by COVID-19, due largely to limited access to health care. Then, just last week, we were horrified by news out of Minneapolis; George Floyd, an African American man, was killed in broad daylight during an arrest by law enforcement.
This senseless act, carried out in plain sight on a city street, is the latest in a long and shameful history of African Americans facing abuse and death at the hands of law enforcement. We know there are thousands of well-trained officers who serve and protect all members of their communities with integrity. But, as we saw this weekend, Mr. Floyd’s death was like a spark in dry tinder. Many of the nation’s cities, including Los Angeles, are now gripped by protests—both peaceful demonstrations and unlawful looting. No matter what form the unrest takes, the anger, frustration, and desperation that people are feeling is unmistakable.
So many in our country have been subjected to discrimination, injustice, and even violence because of the color of their skin, how they worship, or whom they love. These are crimes against our fellow Americans that must be called out and denounced. Racism and bigotry in any form is reprehensible, and as president of El Camino College, I condemn such actions in the strongest terms possible.
Every member of our campus community is needed, valued, and worthy of respect and kindness. Indeed, as a community of Warriors, we must redouble our efforts to fight against prejudice and hatred wherever we see it. We must fight for justice, equity, opportunity, and peace for every El Camino student, especially students of color. Our institutional commitment to the values of respect, integrity, and diversity compels us to take up this fight.
In the coming days, I’ll be meeting with the chief of the El Camino Police Department to discuss how we can work even more diligently as a campus community to further support the safety of all students, faculty, and staff. Campus Police has already transitioned to a greater focus on community policing methods, and the department now operates within the Student Services division—a testament to our belief that a safe, secure campus environment is critical to student success.
As difficult and painful as this moment is, I pray that it will also be a moment of reckoning for our country. A reminder that there’s still so much to be done to ensure true equality for every American. A call to action for every person who values freedom, justice, and peace. We must emerge from this better than we were before. May each of us commit ourselves to that cause.
With warmest regards,
El Camino Community College District