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Bishop Brennan Calls For Peace During Turbulent Time

The Most Rev. Mark Brennan shakes hands with Zyanne Hamlin of Wheeling on Eoff Street across from the Cathedral of St. Joseph during his installation as the bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston last year.

WHEELING — In a call for peace and unity during this turbulent time, the Most Rev. Mark Brennan, bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, on Monday issued a statement on the death of George Floyd and about the protests that erupted across the country denouncing the killing.

“The killing of George Floyd was an egregious act of violence with no justification whatsoever, all the worse for having been perpetrated by some police officers who are sworn to serve and protect their fellow citizens,” Brennan said. “Most law enforcement officials are decent men and women who train hard to restrain any violent impulses and to be respectful as they deal with the public. Mr. Floyd did not meet that kind of police officer the day he was killed.”

Floyd died May 25 after he was taken into custody by Minneapolis police officers who were called for a report of man who had earlier exchanged a counterfeit $20 bill at a store.

Officer Derek Chauvin can be seen on cellphone video pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while two other officers hold the man down as a four officer watches. Floyd was rendered unresponsive and later died at a hospital. Chauvin, who was charged Friday with third-degree murder and manslaughter, and the other three officers at the scene were fired following Floyd’s death.

“I join other Americans in prayer for Mr. Floyd, his family and friends and for the African American community of Minneapolis and throughout our country,” Brennan said. “Every human being is made in God’s image and likeness and deserves respect and fair treatment.”

But Brennan also called for peace after several days of protests across the country, some of which have led to violence and looting.

Hundreds of people attended a rally in Wheeling on Sunday night in solidarity with others across the nation.

“The protests taking place in many U.S. cities reflect the anger and frustration of millions of Americans who, to this day, experience racism in their daily lives. If I find abhorrent the resurgence of the ugly language, violence and racial discrimination I witnessed as a child, with how much more right do African Americans react against it!” Brennan said in a written statement.

Brennan cited a pastoral letter “Open Wide Our Hearts” from 2018, which can be read at www.usccb.org that the bishops wrote to address racism.

“The justified protests currently underway must not be tainted by those who wish to spread violence or ruin the livelihoods of their neighbors,” Brennan said. “Such acts do not advance the cause of racial equality and respect for the human dignity of all.”

Instead, he called for peaceful protests to bring about change.

“Injuries to persons and destruction of property are not the work of justice and will not bring peace,” Brennan said. “Let us honor George Floyd and others who have died in similar incidents by working for true justice and an America in which, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, a person is ‘judged not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character.'”

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