Our response to the death of George Floyd
To our members and fellow social workers,

Our hearts are heavy. This past week’s events in Minneapolis and St. Paul have been a sad and stirring reminder that while COVID-19 has changed much about how we live and work over the past three months, the realities that so many of Minnesotans live with each and every day have stayed the same.

We are sad and outraged at the events surrounding George Floyd’s death. We mourn the loss of his life, and are angered by the way it was taken from him. But we are not shocked, we are not surprised. This is not new. Racism, xenophobia, policy brutality, the school to prison pipeline – and too much more – are realities that continue to impact how we live, too often resulting in loss of life.

When these horrific actions occur, we are wrenched and motivated to bring about change. Yet, as before, we find ourselves back in the same place time and time again. Even with technology bringing these realities to the forefront of our collective consciousness, centuries of cries continue to go unheard. Breona Taylor, Philando Castile, Jamar Clark, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and countless other African-American and Black people killed at the hands of police. When will it be enough?

We cannot let our lack of surprise turn into apathy. Silence holds us complicit. We will not stand by as the pain, trauma, and voices of our neighbors and communities go unheard. We must do better.

In times of pain and uncertainty, we may ask ourselves “What can I do?” “How could this happen?” and “When will this stop?”. While there may be no words that feel helpful right now, as social workers, we can look to our professional core values for guidance: dignity and worth of the individual, service, and social justice. It is our ethical duty to bring about change in the name of equity and opportunity for all. We are stewards for the social welfare of society and it is our responsibility to fight for a world in which we can all breathe – breathe free from the fear of violence, free from pandemic, free from economic collapse. We are called to action. We must ALL join this fight.

Today, MN Governor Tim Walz said “We cannot go back to normal. Normal wasn’t working for so many Minnesotans.” This is about justice for George Floyd – and it is so much more than that as well. What we do – or do not do – in this moment will impact the tomorrow of generations. NASW-MN calls for reform of policing practices and policies, including use of body cameras, use of force laws, and implicit bias training; and for a culture of accountability for the actions of law enforcement. We also demand institutional change to our economic, educational, health care, social welfare and criminal justice systems, which uphold social inequities in all forms. NASW-MN and our National Office will continue to fight for these cultural changes.

We encourage our members and all social workers to engage in change-making efforts that are meaningful to you. We have shared some ideas below.

Trust must be restored. Truth must be told. Voices must be heard. And healing and change must begin now . We cannot wait for next time. The next time is and always will be NOW.

In social work solidarity,

The Staff and Board of Directors of NASW-MN

Looking for ways to take action?





(This is a sampling of ideas, not an exhaustive list. New initiatives and resources are emerging by the minute, so be sure to check online and in your own community for more ideas.)