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A Message from President and CEO Eric J. Jolly, Ph.D., shared with our community ahead of the verdict in the derek Chauvin Trial

April 20, 2021

Dear Community –

It has been and continues to be an emotional and stressful time in Minnesota. While we absorb the verdict in the Derek Chauvin murder trial, we are still reeling from the murder of Daunte Wright and feel the weight of an increased police and military presence in the Twin Cities. Tensions are high, and emotions are raw.

First, we would like to acknowledge the anguish and grief of George Floyd’s family and friends, who have traveled through the unimaginable over this last year as they’ve mourned their beloved father, brother, uncle, cousin and friend. We also lift up our neighbors, the witnesses of that day, who carry the unfair and impossible weight of this tragedy — a tragedy they did not commit and one they could not stop.

Today we stand in solidarity with our community; from those who raised their voices at Mr. Floyd’s side as he was fighting for his life, to those who took to our streets to call for justice, to those across the world who joined in this demand.

While George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police has been said to be a wake-up call, the reality is that his death is merely symptomatic of the racism deeply woven into our country throughout its history. Too many families before and after this tragedy have mourned the loss of their loved ones at the hands of our systems, without recourse or accountability.

The outcome in this trial does not cure the systemic issues we face, generations in the making. We have much work to do. There will not always be a camera to capture injustice. There will not always be witnesses. We must listen to and believe members of our Black community about their lived experiences. And we must act. The death of Daunte Wright at the hands of the police underscores how easily more lives could be lost if we do not act.

It is incumbent upon us — foundations, government, businesses, nonprofits, citizens — to identify and dismantle white supremacy in our communities. Minnesota is our beloved home, and yet it has some of the most significant racial disparities in our nation.

As the largest community foundation in the state, we take seriously our responsibility to address and uproot racism, anti-blackness and oppression. While we know that the ills we face as a society will not disappear overnight, we understand that they must be addressed. As an organization, we will continue to advocate for equity by investing in community-led solutions that tackle racial disparities head-on, while also continuing to have difficult and honest conversations with our staff, donors and community members to identify additional concrete actions we can take to achieve an equitable society.

The Foundation wants to acknowledge the emotional impact that the Derek Chauvin trial has had on our entire community. As such, we are planning to pause our daily operations to create a period of respite. We will be closed on Thursday, April 22, and Friday, April 23. Closing the Foundation is not an easy decision, nor one made lightly. To best serve our donors and community, it is important to give our staff some space and time to process the news of the trial outcome. We appreciate your understanding.

Eric J. Jolly, Ph.D.
President and CEO

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