February 3, 2023

On February 1, mourners gathered to honor the life of Tyre Nichols, who was murdered by Memphis police in January. We are heartbroken, sickened and outraged by his murder and the lack of response from first responders. As much as we dedicate our hearts, minds and actions to improving justice for our communities, the prolonged legacy of racism and structural violence in America continues.

Many of us are distraught, angry and frightened by this murder and the historical legacy of anti-Black racism and police brutality that precedes it. But the heaviest weight falls on our Black colleagues, students, faculty, staff and community members. The murder of Tyre Nichols is one more burden of grief and fear that is unjustly added to this community.

Black lives deserve to be cherished and protected, yet all too often we instead witness the reality that Black life is devalued and diminished by lack of resources and protections. Measures to stop police violence and killings of Black people— including girls and women, queer and trans persons, sex workers, immigrants and others at the social margins — are woefully inadequate.

We ask the School community to reach out with respect and care to those who may be suffering under the heavy burden of this and other racial attacks. Please be encouraged to offer sensitive support and kindness, as we help everyone in our community to feel safe, respected and valued.

We offer our support to those who might benefit from taking time off from work or school to grieve, rest and heal from this most recent trauma. The following resources are available from the School of Social Work and UW:

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Mourning Tyre Nichols and the broken system that took his life—UW President Ana Mari Cauce