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Statement of Penn State Law and School of International Affairs Community Against Racism

On May 25, America witnessed the appalling death of 46-year-old George Floyd at the hands of four police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota. On behalf of the undersigned Penn State Law and School of International Affairs alumni, faculty, staff, and students, we write this open letter to condemn the continued and senseless killings of innocent Black men and women by police officers and to express our opposition to systemic racism.   

Mr. Floyd is not the first Black man to be targeted and killed by police, but his death was a breaking point. Like so many before him, Mr. Floyd cried out "Please, I can't breathe" and pleaded for help. One police officer knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds. Three other police officers stood by and did nothing. The heartbreaking scene was viewed by America and the world, searing already deep wounds to Black mothers and fathers and their children who know too well the deadly consequences of driving, jogging, or breathing while Black. Said Bryan Stevenson, a lauded death penalty lawyer and author of the groundbreaking book Just Mercy: “It’s not just anger over what happened to George Floyd or Breonna Taylor or Ahmaud Arbery. It is anger about continuing to live in a world where there is this presumption of dangerousness and guilt wherever you go.”

Too many Black men, women, and children have been killed by police officers. Too many deaths have fallen out of the headlines or never received any public attention at all. Too many parents teach their Black children how to shoulder the burden of countering presumptions of dangerousness and guilt, yet know that it may not work in a world that treats Black bodies as threats to be eliminated.

As members of the legal and international affairs academy and law and policy professions, we say enough. We say the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Botham Jean, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, and so many more. We commit ourselves to a rule of law that treats all people equally and actively counters racism in all forms. We will speak up when we see or hear racism around us. Black Lives Matter, today and every day.


Hari M. Osofsky
Dean, Penn State Law and School of International Affairs
Scott Sigmund Gartner
Director, School of International Affairs