University of Louisiana at Lafayette President Dr. Joseph Savoie had high praise for rally organizers and protesters as they met on the UL campus to protest police brutality following George Floyd's death.

Protests have been happening across the country following the death of Floyd in Minneapolis. Derek Chauvin, the now-fired Minneapolis Police Officer who can be seen on video subduing Floyd by placing his knee on his neck as Floyd pleaded for air, has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

Many of these protests have become violent as rioters have destroyed businesses and injured other people.

Protests in Lafayette began Sunday morning with a rally on UL's campus at the corner of Johnston Street and University Avenue.

Following the protest, Dr. Savoie released the following statement, in which he praised students for "lead(ing) the way toward reconciliation."

Dear members of the University family,

 

George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. Tony McDade.

 

Their tragic deaths – and those of countless others – are reminders that our nation has much work to do to address discrimination, intolerance and other inexcusable barriers to social justice that have burdened us for far too long.

 

Universities are a place where that work can occur. Indeed, they are a place where it must occur.

 

It is the University’s responsibility to model principles of civility, respect and understanding for both its campus family and its wider community. Moreover, it is our duty to embody inclusivity and embrace diversity, and to educate others about their power.

 

Today, our students exemplified these ideals.

 

Members of the Student Action and Organizing Committee led a community dialogue on campus about the basic human right that all people – regardless of race, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation or ethnicity – have to live in freedom and security.

 

These students confronted the sadness, pain and outrage they feel about the events of the past week with clarity and thoughtfulness. They answered insular hate with the diverse voice of which this institution is so proud and from which we draw so much strength.

 

Our students demonstrated civic engagement and community leadership today, and I applaud them.

 

Moreover, they showed that the path to binding our nation’s wounds – no matter how deep, how historic and how painful – can be illuminated through conversation rather than violence.

 

Sincerely,

 

Dr. Joseph Savoie

President

 

Following the protest, Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory posted the following message on Facebook:

Facebook Snapshot

Leading up to the protest, Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory released the following message in support of peaceful protests:

“I am deeply saddened and angered by the tragedy in Minneapolis resulting in the death of George Floyd. The thoughts and prayers of our entire community are with his family and with the people of Minneapolis at this very difficult time.

 

The men and women of law enforcement across our country put their lives on the line every day to keep us all safe. When we see evidence of such a blatant violation of that sacred trust, it is shocking and for many of us it becomes a source of outrage.

 

Those who would exploit this righteous anger to sow mayhem in the streets of our cities are also a source of outrage. The right to peacefully protest injustice at the hands of government is perhaps the most deeply held right of all. It's at the very heart of who we are as Americans.To abuse and defile that right by multiplying the Floyd tragedy many times across our country, can't be justified.

 

I have spoken with Chief Morgan at length. The Lafayette Police Department is committed to ensuring a safe environment for members of our community to lawfully express their precious right to speak freely in a way that is befitting of our values, our people and our parish.”

 

Click on the button below to watch the rally, courtesy of KATC's Facebook Page and John Weatherall III's Facebook Page.