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Acknowledging the Trauma of Police-Involved Killings

Dear members of the Northwestern community,

As we closely follow the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer charged in the killing of George Floyd, we are regrettably writing to acknowledge this week’s tragic police shooting that resulted in the death of another Black man, Daunte Wright of Minnesota. Further, today the Chicago Police Department released the troubling police body cam footage showing the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo.

The persistent, systemic nature of police brutality can take a psychological toll on many in the Northwestern community, particularly Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC). For Black people, who are disproportionately shot and murdered at the hands of the police, these killings are an all-too-frequent reminder of the urgent work that needs to happen to ensure issues of systemic racism and all forms of oppression are addressed. This is the only way we will create a truly equitable and just society in which marginalized people can safely live. Northwestern recognizes that these tragic events can have a deeper impact on those who self-identify with the victims and increase the generational trauma that we know exists. 

We encourage you to use, and share, the resources below if you or someone in our community is in need of support.

  • Students can connect with Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), which provides mental health services for undergraduate and graduate students on the Evanston and Chicago campuses. And the Center for Awareness, Response and Education (CARE) provides a confidential space for students impacted by sexual violence, relationship violence or stalking, including friends or partners of survivors.
  • Faculty and staff can access the Employee Assistance Program, which provides a network of services including free and confidential short-term counseling.
  • Northwestern’s Faculty Wellness Program offers assistance to full-time faculty members who are experiencing difficulties in their professional or personal lives.
  • All members of the Northwestern community can access Religious and Spiritual Life, where chaplains are available to talk confidentially and provide support.

At Northwestern, we are committed to ensuring a safe and welcoming environment that is anti-racist and just. The weeks and months ahead will certainly be difficult as additional details come forward during the investigations. At this time, we must give ourselves grace and permission to properly process our sadness and anger, and unite in showing compassion toward all members in our community, country and world.