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State College Mayor Filippelli Calls on Community to Speak Out Against Racism

by on May 31, 2020 7:37 PM

State College Mayor Ron Filippelli was among dozens of community members to speak at Sunday's "Justice for George Floyd" rally downtown, an event that drew more than 1,000 community members to protest against racism and police brutality.

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died in police custody last week after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes while two others held Floyd down and another watched. The white officer who knelt on Floyd, Derek Chauvin, was charged with third-degree murder. All four officers were fired. Floyd, who was unarmed and said he couldn't breathe prior to becoming unresponsive, had been accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill.

His death has sparked protests nationwide, including the peaceful, four-hour event in State College on Sunday afternoon.

"I think everyone here should commit to staying with the cause," Filippelli said during the rally. "It’s the right cause. We need a movement locally and nationally that stays with it."

Later in the afternoon, Filippelli released a statement saying he "will not be silent on the issue" and urged others to speak out and take action.

Filippelli's full statement is below:

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, an African American man was killed by a Minneapolis police officer. His death was unnecessary, cruel, and criminal. It is one more act of violence against African Americans that serves as another chilling reminder about the inequities and injustices that continue to exist in our country. This tragic event reminds us that life in America is very different for African-Americans and other underrepresented and disenfranchised groups. 

It is unacceptable to look past and ignore the hate and systematic racism that continues to exist in our country.  Persons of color continue to endure discrimination and other mistreatment by police and others in this country that all should find outrageous and which should be condemned by all. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best, "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

I will not be silent on this issue and hope there is a groundswell of citizens of all races, especially white persons, who not only speak out against racism but take action to make our community one that is accepting, tolerant, inclusive, and just for all persons regardless of race, religion, creed, color, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, or mental or physical disability.

I commend and support those who are peacefully speaking up and protesting the killing of George Floyd and others all too similar incidents. As they protest these incidents and share their stories, we must be supportive, listen, and learn what more we can do individually and corporately to help address the systemic inequities that have existed for many, many years, and no doubt, continue to be present. This is not just a Minneapolis, MN or Louisville, KY, or Brunswick, GA issue but an issue for State College and every other community across this country. Now more than ever we must speak out and take appropriate action against these inequities and injustices.  After all, this is about humaneness, decency, respect, and love.

Penn State President Eric Barron and Nittany Lion football coach James Franklin also released statements this weekend following Floyd's death.

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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