A gathering on May 25 observed one year since the murder of George Floyd.
The observance began at Town Hall with music and brief remarks. Speakers included Selectwoman Samantha Nestor, Police Chief Ed Henion, and members of the town’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee.
Afterwards, participants made the short walk to Norfield Church for a candlelight vigil. Bells in the steeple rang for nine minutes and 29 seconds that were otherwise silent.
One speaker who could not attend due to an extended legislative session was State Representative Anne Hughes. At her request, the remarks she had planned to deliver are below, after the slideshow, as an open letter to student leaders and the community.
Representative Anne Hughes:
A year ago we were bystanders. We were witnesses of the horrific murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police, and our community, like all communities throughout this country, was summoned to a reckoning.
We have rightly struggled and continue to reckon with our role, now that we have seen … with our own eyes, what so many of our brown and Black families have suffered and fear every day. We must no longer turn away from this pattern of state-sanctioned brutality and violence wrought with impunity on Black and brown people throughout our country, and within our state.
Some of us have channeled our horror and dismay into conversations … into action, into reading books, and research, a deep dive into our history, joined task forces, commissions, and even moved legislation into policy, as we reckon with our accountability as a community. We come together one year later, humbly struggling with our roles as reckoners … how do we reckon with the systems we inhabit, the community we live in, the justice system that we inherit, the school climate that we have established, and the norms we have assumed?
We come together to stand in solidarity, to assume new roles, individually, and collectively, as upstanders, no longer bystanders, to a pattern of systemic violence and harm to our community. We have begun to listen to members of our community, to generations of families throughout our country who continue to live in fear and with the devastating impact of trauma, trauma that may have been invisible to many of us before, trauma that is passed on, generation to generation.
Now we must reckon with our roles of UPSTANDERS. What can we change in our policy, in our norms, in our practices, in our systems, and in our functioning as a community to address these harms?
We are summoned, once again by our young leaders, who have determined that this status quo is NOT something they are willing to inherit or be complicit in. I applaud those who have given voice to a new determination of this moment of reckoning, on a local and state level, and by joining with a national reckoning. As your state Representative, I am so humbled by your leadership, your determination, your voices. And I am proud to amplify this public will for change. I stand with you in this messy reckoning. I am so proud of this community as we struggle to become UPSTANDERS for addressing racism.
Let us do this messy work together. Let us resolve to make our mistakes, to continue to unveil the deep systemic origins of these harms imbedded in our policies, in our norms, within our systems of health, education, housing, and justice. Let us vow, in solidarity, to stop the killing. WE must stop the harm, the trauma that leaves so many suffering, mourning and traumatized for generations.
Let us resolve to excavate the policies that have dismissed and made invisible, the deliberate harm wreaked on brown and Black bodies, and resolve that we SHALL not be bystanders anymore. This one-year anniversary of the killing of George Floyd at the hands of our police marks the reckoning that was begun in this community of Weston, and across this District, that resonates and reminds us of a similar racial and economic reckoning moment that our country found itself in mid-1960s: an era into which I was born.
So to the students that raise your voices now, I say to you: you were born for this moment. You were born for this reckoning. Welcome to your new role as UPSTANDERS. I am so proud to represent you. Let's be reckoners of justice together. Thank you for summoning us tonight and for this community of conscience. Welcome to this RECKONING.
State Rep. Anne Hughes, 135th District.