Department of Astronomy Statement on the Killing of George Floyd

The Department of Astronomy condemns the continuing murders of Black citizens driven by the systemic racism that has festered in this country for so many years. The murder of George Floyd was particularly disturbing and reprehensible, since we could all see in heartbreaking detail how an official, who swore to protect other citizens, has killed a human being in his power while his colleagues did nothing to intervene.

This murder has forcibly reminded us of the humanity of the people who have been lost in racist acts for hundreds of years. I know it has been heartbreaking for everyone in the department, and that we are deeply concerned for those who are most affected, and particularly department members of color. Especially as you suffer, the Department looks for ways to provide support and if possible solace in more fully understanding and fighting against the massive injustice involved. It remains a long road to justice, and there is no time to waste.

We must all strive to change the system of institutional racism that is the root of this. We cannot be silent. I know that department members are joining protests, supporting political actions to reorient policing and the justice system to more fairly serve the nation, supporting organizations that stand for rights, and above all, voting for elected officials who represent their ultimate beliefs. Please continue to share your actions, ideas, and lessons with the entire department -- visibly participating in the process may be the best way to support our colleagues, and visible absence can send a message. The department, and most emphatically I, continue to offer what power we have to make a better future.

Andrew Harris, Ph.D. | Professor and Chair
Department of Astronomy | University of Maryland

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