His name was George Floyd.
A message from our leader, Deidre Schmidt:
I am writing to reflect on the May 25th killing by a Minneapolis police officer of an unarmed black man who was suspected of a non-violent offense. His name was George Floyd. The grotesque disregard for his humanity and brutal ending of his life was filmed and has been widely distributed. Last night, the cumulative anger and despair about this—and so many other senseless killings—continued to boil over.
The constant sound of sirens and helicopters is unnerving. It is also a metaphor for the looming threat, the relentless need for vigilance, and the fear that black and brown people experience all the time.
Remember, CommonBond was founded by people who witnessed the burning of U.S. cities in the late 1960s and understood that in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words, “a riot is the language of the unheard.” Our founders decided to use affordable housing as a means to counter the injustices that threaten equitable and therefore peaceful communities. Since then, CommonBond has grown to serve nearly 13,000 people daily by providing housing and social services in three states. Many generations have come up in our housing, and give back by supporting not just themselves and their families, but also the larger community.
But George Floyd’s killing is sadly only the latest reminder that our work is far from done. Last night also reminded me that the progress we have made can be undone so quickly. A symbol of this is the burned out shell of nearly 200 units of affordable housing that is still smoldering today near the Third Precinct in Minneapolis. That isn’t a CommonBond Communities building, but it easily could have been.
As of this moment, we are lucky that CommonBond housing communities have sustained minimal property damage—yet we're working diligently to prevent future damage and to help keep residents safe. Well over a thousand of our residents in St. Paul spent last night sheltering against the tear gas used to dispel crowds.
In the midst of this, we’re also trying to demonstrate care for our staff, 43% of whom are people of color. Our established mental health consultant helped us immediately create a virtual staff gathering so we could process emotions around this terrible series of events. CommonBond will continue to support hard-working staff in taking care of themselves so that they can care for our community—your community.
We hope you will join us in keeping the root causes of racism and inequity in the forefront as this situation develops. For those who have the privilege of not thinking about this every moment, please remind yourself—and those around you—that this impacts us all.
We still share the vision of CommonBond’s founders—and believe that a more just and equitable world is possible. Thank you for your continued partnership in our work to make it a reality.
President & CEO