Statement from Charge d’Affaires Karen Sasahara

The death of George Floyd, pinned down under the knee of a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25, shocked the world, fueling demands for justice. As senior officials at all levels across the U.S. Government have said, his death is a tragedy that should never have happened. The video of his final moments has filled Americans with horror, anger, and grief.  The Department of Justice and local law enforcement have launched investigations.  The four police officers involved in the incident have been fired and now face criminal charges.  Americans took to the streets in protest, which continues in cities around the country.  Regrettably, Mr. Floyd’s death is not unique; African-Americans face a higher probability of injury or death during an encounter with law enforcement.

The vast majority of law enforcement officers across our country deserve praise for their public service and professionalism, often in dangerous situations.  We must, however, recognize that police brutality is a serious issue that threatens the credibility of our justice system.  Police everywhere have a duty to serve and protect the public.  When they fall short, they must be held accountable.

Unfortunately, the protests that are ongoing have been accompanied by violence, and in some instances, looting and destruction of public and private property.  These acts are indefensible and detract from the real issue: the death of George Floyd, and how to stop these kinds of deaths that happen again and again.

This is a time of soul searching, frank, open dialogue, and subsequent action to stop this scenario.  It is hard to acknowledge and even harder to start the conversations on the death of George Floyd and the overall context, societal or historical, in which his death occurred.  People will draw different conclusions about what happened and the events of the past ten days.  Some will focus on contradictions, if not what they believe are the hypocrisy of our words versus our actions.  Fine. What is important is that we acknowledge our shortcomings and societal wrongs, because these problems will not solve themselves.  Americans must work together even harder to ensure that everyone in our country is treated equally under the law and within American society. So let the healing start and the much-needed dialogue begin in this first step towards, as written in the preamble of our Constitution, “a more perfect union.”