We are living through deeply troubling and troubled times. The tragic death of George Floyd and similar events in so many other places around our country strike at the very core of our highest ideals of a just and equitable world. I share in the anguish and condemnation expressed by so many people throughout our community and indeed our nation over these events. I stand in complete solidarity and as a partner with all those working to channel the outrage from these incidents into meaningful action, to directly confront the scourge of historic and systemic racism wherever it may exist, which is fracturing communities, including ours, and undermining the potential of people because of the color of their skin.
While I cannot know the full extent of the pain and frustration of these and other events experienced by black residents, friends, and colleagues, I can see it in your faces and hear it in your voices. While I cannot walk in your shoes, I will walk beside you. I understand the importance and urgency of this moment in time, the culmination of years of oppression and discrimination felt in so many ways. It demands our full attention. And even in a city like Shaker Heights that so highly values its diversity, it requires us to further strengthen our work together in order to create an anti-racist City — and society — where all people feel safe and secure and can achieve their full potential; where all people can partake fully in all of the rights and opportunities afforded citizens in Shaker Heights and in our country.
I pledge to continue to work towards racial justice and equal opportunity for all by being an ally, by listening and engaging in open and honest dialogue, by learning, by standing up, by speaking out and by taking action. I commit to re-double our efforts to make these goals a priority for the City across all departments and at every level. As we know, even in a community as dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion as Shaker is, this will continue to require deep, sustained work to build lasting trust, to understand, to listen, to open our hearts and minds, to acknowledge the ways in which systemic racism and injustice takes root and persists, to understand the frustration and exhaustion felt by so many black people in our community and on our staff and commit to making change.
We will begin by re-engaging with the wide range of existing community groups working on equity issues so that we can establish a structure for moving forward together. We seek to strengthen established partnerships and create new ones that will help us as a community to deepen our understanding and sharpen our focus on systemic racism, and to help us do the hard work of reevaluating systems and structures that create barriers for people of color. While these have been and remain at the forefront of our efforts in our police department, we will continue to actively seek ways to further diversify of our police force and will continue to engage in best practices related to police de-escalation training, among other initiatives. We are fortunate to have police leadership that is fully committed to this work and to working in partnership with the community. We will lean into what we stand for here in Shaker: equity and inclusion in all ways and across all systems, and for all residents.
Our words matter, but my actions, all of our actions, matter more. Change will only come through action. As a community, we have been called upon to confront difficult issues in the past. We are called upon once again to confront this; to make systemic and long lasting change; and to become anti-racist in all ways and for all people. I believe we are up to the challenge.
City Council joins me in asking that we stand together, even when it is hard and painful, and commit to creating a more equitable and just community and world. Our future depends on it.
Please feel free to email your thoughts, comments and suggestions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
. I welcome your input.
David E. Weiss