Confronting Racism: Responding to the Death of George Floyd (2020)


This is what he said. 

“I can’t breathe.” “Please.”  

But the police officer’s knee remained on his neck for nearly nine minutes.  

Until he died. 

Say his name: George Floyd. 

For too long now, we have closed our eyes or turned away or simply denied it. But racism is alive and well. We can’t turn our eyes away from George Floyd’s murder. This inexcusable act seems to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Protests that started in Minneapolis have spread worldwide. Many have been peaceful. Violence toward property and persons has also broken out. It is never to be condoned. But we dare not turn away from the long history of systemic discrimination and violence against our siblings of color that have led us to these days. 

In a recent sermon, Bishop Patricia Lull of our St. Paul Area Synod said, “Even in the midst of this pandemic we are reminded of both the fragility of life and the disparities with which health care and economic opportunity, safety, and basic human regard are allotted in this country. We are not spared those difficult truths just because of the coronavirus. We cannot overlook violence or injustice or human tragedy until the world is easier to navigate. Even now, we grieve with those who grieve; we call out for justice and accountability on behalf of those who are victims of systemic injustice; really ugly racism. We wish such disturbing news was unprecedented but it is all too familiar.”

The prophet Amos said, “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” For too long this was a voice crying out in the wilderness. Perhaps now we can hear. Perhaps now we can follow the Spirit’s leading into a new day. Perhaps now we can act. 

What can you do?

  • Volunteer. Two ELCA churches in the heart of targeted neighborhoods – Holy Trinity in Minneapolis and Bethlehem in the Midway in St. Paul – are working hard to meet the needs in their neighborhoods. To learn about current needs, visit Holy Trinity on Facebook and Bethlehem on Facebook.
  • Donate. Give now on our website. Select “Local Needs,” and we will allocate your gifts in partnership with these two Lutheran churches.
  • Learn more. There are many resources available, but these may be helpful to you beyond the regular media options:
    • Look under ‘events’ and watch for emails describing new learning opportunities that will be offered through our Racial Truth and Reconciliation Team
    • Read about the ELCA’s commitment to combat racism and white supremacy here.
    • Learn more background information on groups like the Boogaloo Boys in this MPR article and some of the links from ISAIAH

 Now is the time to do something.  

And we dare not stop until things have changed.