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Association leaders condemn ‘senseless’ killing of George Floyd

The leaders of international meetings industry associations have spoken out against the brutal killing of George Floyd, which has led to widespread protests on the streets of America.

Sherrif Karamat, president and CEO of Chicago-based PCMA (Professional Convention Management Association) condemned the 46-year-old’s death as ‘senseless’ and ‘barbaric’.

And Susan Robertson, president of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), described the ‘senseless injustice’ of his death and the feelings of ‘anger and frustration’ it has sparked.

Floyd, an African-American man, died after being arrested by police outside a shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Video footage shows a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on Floyd’s neck while he was pinned to the floor, sparking violent protests across America.

In a statement Karamat said: “The senseless murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis is a barbaric example of the continued injustice and discrimination that must stop. Now.”

He said many were ‘hurting and enraged’ but called for an end to the ‘violent confrontations and property destruction in many of our communities’, adding, ‘we must not let violence tear us apart’.

“At a time when we need to come together. It is imperative that we stay focused on the task of ending discrimination. As an inclusive organization, PCMA has zero tolerance for injustice, discrimination and violence. Now more than ever, we need to come together as a community to create a more just society in which all are safe and treated with respect and dignity. This is part of the social transformation PCMA seeks to drive through our ASCENT program and other initiatives.”

Robertson said while violence should never be condoned, ‘we should all be listening’, and expressed hope that America’s associations could play an active role in tackling racism and discrimination.

She wrote: “We need things to change and we need them to change now. While the answers to racial injustice are complex and multi-faceted, America’s associations are a community of listeners and problem solvers. We need tangible commitments from our nation’s leaders to address racial inequalities once and for all, but every one of us needs to do the work, to identify, challenge and change the values, structures and behaviours that perpetuate systemic racism. My hope is that we as association leaders will confront the uncomfortable truths in our world, create communities that are truly collaborative and be active embracers of a better tomorrow.”

Karamat concluded: “I am deeply disturbed by the murder of Mr. Floyd and cannot be silent. This matters and it is time we all stand up against it. Our prayers are with the family of George Floyd. My thoughts are with those of you who are grieving or frightened.”