On June 1, President Cornacchia sent out an email addressed to the Saint Peter’s community in regards to the recent murder of George Floyd by a police officer.
He shared his thoughts pertaining to the racism endured by African-Americans and other people of color in America.
During the past couple weeks, Americans have taken to the streets to protest police brutality following the murder of George Floyd, a 46 year-old black man from Minneapolis who suffocated when a white officer named Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, ignoring his pleas for help.
Although many have taken to their cities to march peacefully for the “Black Lives Matter”cause, as well as sharing information on social media about the movement, some people have started riots and participated in acts of violence across the country.
He begins to address how unlike the virus that we have been recently exposed to, racism has been prevalent in the United States for centuries, and the many attempts made to combat it have either been short-lived or “purely symbolic”. He notes that there are still not enough people standing in solidarity with communities of color.
“While I am encouraged that many people have spoken out against this disgusting act of brutality and that some steps are being taken to bring the perpetrators to justice, we have been here before and nothing seems to change,” he said.
Throughout the email, Cornacchia expresses his anger on how black people and other people of color have to live in fear when at the hands of police officers. While crediting the law enforcement officials he knows who are not “bad actors”, he spoke on how rare it is for their authority to be held accountable for any inappropriate acts of force.
“Those who stoke the hate and violence and support the injustice, actively or passively, as a way of protecting their position, influence and power are co-conspirators in this oppression.”
But even while acknowledging certain measures being taken, he emphasizes how untrustworthy America’s law enforcement is because of examples of ongoing violence. While not naming anyone, he also criticizes leaders who are not promoting unity amidst this experience, and mentions that America has abandoned its role as a model democracy.
He additionally adds his concerns towards his family’s safety and shares his worries on future encounters that can endanger them due to the color of their skin.
Despite this, Cornacchia ends his email with a ray of hope. He finished his statement by quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a way to encourage and remind our Saint Peter’s community about our Jesuit beliefs, and how to continue to fight against hate and injustice everywhere.
“While violence is never condoned, there are many ways to ignite change. Let us reach outside our comfort zone and engage in conversations. Let us turn our anger into constructive, political action. It will take work, but we are up to the challenge,” said Cornacchia.