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Penn State football's James Franklin decries 'senseless deaths' of George Floyd, Arbery and Taylor

Centre Daily Times logoCentre Daily Times 5/31/2020 By Josh Moyer, Centre Daily Times (State College, Pa.)

Penn State football coach James Franklin offered a heartfelt statement Saturday afternoon in response to the three “senseless deaths” of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. He expressed frustration over the “country’s inaction,” saying the the direction of the U.S. “genuinely concerns” him.

Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, died Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Three other officers looked on, while a crowd screamed on camera that the police were going to kill him.

Arbery, a 25-year-old African American man, was killed in February after three white men in Georgia were charged with murder after pursuing and confronting Arbery, before he was shot. Charges were filed more than two months later. Taylor, a 26-year-old African American woman, was shot and killed in March when police in Louisville, Kentucky, served a no-knock warrant to the wrong address.

Franklin, 48, was one of just 14 African-American head college football coaches in 2019. His full statement, which he first posted on Twitter, is below:

“My heart is broken, my beliefs have been challenged, and my emotions are raw. These senseless deaths are a symptom of a larger problem and in moments like this, silence is deafening indifference.

“Our country is at a critical point and it’s imperative when the road is bumpy, the path convoluted, the reality heartbreaking, we remember who and what We Are. We Are a country of opportunity, a nation of ambition and a people rooted in diversity, shared experiences and hope. It’s more critical now than ever, we recognize our differences should not divide us but truly strengthen the fabric of who We Are!

“The direction of our country genuinely concerns me for the health and well-being of the young men I have devoted my life and career to leading. These young men are future doctors, teachers, broadcasters, lawyers, athletes, fathers and more. The idea they can have their lives stolen from them before they get a chance to leave their mark on the world is unconscionable.

“It’s these same young men who have a platform to stand upon to remind us all lives deserve to be protected. Black lives, women’s lives, the lives of the sick, elderly, criminal, free, immigrate or domestic. Every breath; every life is precious.

“I am gutted by this nation’s most recent tragedies and frustrated by our country’s inaction. Thankfully, though, I am also encouraged by the faces of change I see every time I look at our team. I am thankful for the opportunity to lead men of honor, character, tolerance and empathy. I consider myself privileged to be a part of their triumphs, disappointments, happiness, sacrifices and frustrations, because We Are a nation of shared experiences. We Are a country built on hope, and it’s my greatest wish we remember our differences are what make us strong. Our shared pain is what binds us, but it will be our love and tenacity that guides the change needed in our country.

“It’s not only the tragic deaths of these individuals the last few weeks, it’s the smothering of hope and the suffocation of a dream that left me feeling so raw. These weren’t just people of color, these were AMERICANS. These were citizens of our country and if We Are to take a step forward, we cannot leave them behind. This is OUR country. This is OUR future. This is OUR moment.

“It’s with love, respect and appreciation that I am praying for all of us.

“In honor of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.”

———

©2020 the Centre Daily Times (State College, Pa.)

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