New York, June 16, 2020
Tragic though it may have been, George Floyd’s death has furthered the cause of justice for all Americans and has inspired people around the world to rise up and fight against racism and oppression, and thus it was not in vain, Archbishop Elpidophoros of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and Archbishop Theodosius of Sebaste of the Jerusalem Patriarchate say in recent statements.
A press release from GOARCH issued on June 13 states that Abp. Elpidophoros welcomes the “Say Their Name” Reform Package signed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in the wake of George Floyd’s death introducing certain measures to help combat “the issue of systemic brutality against minority communities across the nation,” including banning chokeholds by law enforcement officers.
“I am grateful to our New York State Legislature and Governor Cuomo … for the swift action to institute long overdue reform. This is not about hurting in any way our police forces, but rectifying those areas of practice that have been the cause of abuse and even the death of our fellow citizens,” Abp. Elpidophoros commented.
And speaking of results of George Floyd’s death, he continues: “If the unjust killing of George Floyd has brought us one step closer to justice for all Americans, then his death, however tragic and unnecessary, will not have been in vain. Regardless of the color of our skin, the customs of our culture, the rituals of our religion, or the language of our lips, we are all Americans and we all deserve full protection under the law.”
Recall that Abp. Elpidophoros marched in a Black Lives Matter protest against the death of Breonna Taylor on June 3, a 26-year-old EMT who was killed when police raided her home in March.
In his own statement, published by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee on June 10, Abp. Theodosius refers to George Floyd as a “martyr for humanity.”
“We see him as a Palestinian martyr. George Floyd and all other martyrs will remain worldwide symbols of freedom and the struggle to achieve justice here and everywhere,” the Jerusalem Patriarchate hierarch said.
The Archbishop, who often speaks out in defense of persecuted Palestinians, states that therefore, “From the City of Jerusalem, the City of Peace, we stand firm, in solidarity and support, with the peaceful demonstrators who are fighting to end racism, prejudice, and police brutality all over the United States and around the world.”
“We condemn and reject the heinous murder of George Floyd. We condemn the systemic and institutional anti-black racism in America. Racism is evil and must be rejected, confronted, and resisted by all peaceful means,” he continues.
Those in Palestine “have a common suffering from the forces of evil and oppression in all its fascist forms whether religious, social, political and economic apartheid,” Abp. Theodosius emphasizes.
Palestinians are standing shoulder to shoulder with their “African American brothers and sisters” to end racism everywhere, he writes, and the death of George Floyd reminds that racism is rooted in the dehumanization of the other.
The fight against racism must be a global, coordinated effort, Abp. Theodosius believes. “We must walk together in the path of salvation and the consecration of the values of love, brotherhood, and mercy in the tradition of our Lord Jesus Christ and his disciples, saints, and all those who defended these values in our world.”
Freedom, equality, and justice are universal values and Christian values, shared by those in America and those in Palestine and those around the world, the Archbishop writes. Love knowns no boundaries, regardless of nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, or skin color.
In fact, Palestinians see George Floyd as one of their own, Abp. Theodosius believes: “The martyr George Floyd is a martyr for humanity. We see him as a Palestinian martyr. George Floyd and all other martyrs will remain worldwide symbols of freedom and the struggle to achieve justice here and everywhere.”
His Eminence ends his statement with condolences to the family of George Floyd, and a word to the deceased: “You sacrificed your life for us to rise and fight against racism and oppression. Your death was not in vain. You are with your Lord in Heaven.”