Below is a statement issued today by Evanston Mayor Stephen Hagerty:
“My heart aches for Black people across the country who have witnessed yet another act of police brutality and worry that justice will not be forthcoming. In the past few months, we have seen the disproportionate deaths of Black people due to the coronavirus. The news of racially charged acts of violence against George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the many others whose stories will never be forgotten, has clearly fragmented our society.
As a white man of privilege, I cannot say that I fully understand the pain that is being felt throughout Black communities, but I can say that I am trying. I am working to educate myself on the detrimental effects that racism has on Black people in this country. As a white man and an elected official, it is my responsibility to call out racism and work to change a deeply flawed system.
Today, a group of young leaders, recent graduates of Evanston Township High School, have organized a socially distanced march and rally for Black lives. I am proud of these leaders and of the socially aware students that ETHS is producing. These leaders have organized this event based on their right to free speech and are doing so in a way that recognizes the pain that Black communities are suffering.
During today’s march and rally, I ask that we follow the leaders’ intent for a peaceful, safe, and socially distanced march. The Evanston Police will be present at the march to support Evanstonians and ensure people’s safety.
Today, I will have the words of George Floyd’s family firmly in my mind. “Black people want peace in their souls and until we get #JusticeForFloyd there will be no peace. We also cannot sink to the level of our oppressors, and we cannot endanger each other as we respond to the necessary urge to raise our voices in unison and in outrage.”
As Mayor, I am committed to engaging in the dialogue that must take place. This week I will call on Black leaders in Evanston, our Police Chief, faith leaders, and others, and publicly listen to their voices, seeking guidance on what Evanston can do to begin to heal deep wounds and to advance equity in our community for our Black families and neighbors. This is not going to be a smooth ride, but rather a time of growth, disagreement, education, and change. Change might not come as quickly as we want, but with the support of all Evanstonians, change will come.”
Stephen H. Hagerty
Mayor, City of Evanston