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May 29, 2020 Message from Chair Toni Carter

As chair of the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners, I want to share with you how deeply saddened we all are by the devastating injustices that occur too frequently within our midst. Like you, we’re appalled and angered when those to whom we’ve given authority to serve and protect us so thoroughly misuse and betray our trust. And when our justice system repetitively fails to swiftly provide justice after such violations, scars left unhealed deepen with each re-injury. That is the case now with the death of Mr. George Floyd while in custody of the Minneapolis Police. We offer our prayers for his family and friends, and also for our Twin Cities communities in the aftermath of this horrible occurrence.

For two days and nights we’ve watched as people have taken to the streets to protest. And while peaceful protesters seek remedy, repair and reconciliation, ill-intentioned individuals incite violence and destruction. Others, who have little or no regard for the protest motive, loot and steal - multiplying the injury to those already harmed. This is unacceptable – and that is why we are declaring a local emergency in response. We support the efforts of dedicated peace officers and community working together to quickly quell the violence and destruction.

As we struggle through this current turmoil, we want you to hear our message, that there is hope. As a governance team, the Ramsey County board of commissioners reaffirms to you our commitment to our guiding vision of a vibrant community where all are valued and thrive. As a community, our strategic work to transform systems together is more important now than ever. We’ve been building this transformative work with community dating back to the start of our work to reform our juvenile justice system, well over a decade ago. Deliberate strategies of community engagement and partnership for racial and health equity now expand across all of Ramsey County’s program and investment areas. This work is not business as usual. Transforming systems together is critical to achieving our goals of wellbeing, opportunity, and pursuit of prosperity for all. It is how we hold ourselves accountable to our community for being the change we want to see.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak we’ve been identifying ways to accelerate the change as we address this urgent public health emergency. Guided by and alongside community, we’re investing in protecting the health of our communities and providing financial assistance and support for those most in need - our struggling families and individuals, small businesses, and those looking for work. In the days, weeks and months ahead we’re committed to continuing to learn and benefit from engaging community, building forward on the foundation we’ve created together over time, and the quick acceleration of change born out of our pandemic response. Surely the past two days amplify that, post-COVID-19, we can never “return to normal”, but must instead build new, inclusive systems that work for all. A number of our accomplishments over this brief and intense period inform our work for the future.

Rest assured that all members of the Ramsey County board of commissioners stand united in the commitment to continue charting and accelerating our walk along the path to transformation, together with you. For even through the traumatic experience of witnessing a life unjustly ended, along with the ongoing anguish of this pandemic, we are assured that: Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that. - Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Toni Carter
Chair, Ramsey County Board of Commissioners

Posted on Friday, May 29, 2020 - 12:08 p.m.