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A Letter from CEO Chris Oddleifson

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June 2, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

I am deeply disturbed by the racism and violence we have witnessed over the last few months.

The murder of Ahmaud Arbery while jogging in Georgia, the death of Breonna Taylor while sleeping during an unnecessary police raid, the wrongful accusation that Christian Cooper threatened a woman’s life when he was only peacefully birdwatching in Central Park, and the death of George Floyd after having a police officer’s knee on his neck for over eight minutes illustrates, once again, that racism remains an intractable evil in our country. In addition to these heinous events, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light well-documented racial health care disparities which have led to other unnecessary deaths.

The truth is that 150 years after slavery was abolished, and 50 years after the Civil Rights Act was passed, Black Americans continue to be victims of discrimination, violence, and unequal treatment.

We mourn for those who have lost their lives and are deeply saddened that, for many of our fellow Americans, the weight of bias is a part of everyday life. Change is desperately needed, and I don’t believe violence is the answer. We are a society that strives for justice, and our communities are weaker when prejudice and ignorance silence individual voices. We need to do better. To quote the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., who disapproved of riots and advocated nonviolent tactics in the struggle for equality, “In the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear?”

At Rockland Trust, we do not tolerate discrimination, and our cultural commitment to diversity and inclusion is steadfast. We need to do our part to work toward a better future for everyone. If you, like me, have been asking yourself “What can we do?” I invite you to join the conversation and participate in meaningful discussions about race which will happen through our Inclusion Network’s upcoming dialogue series. I am eager to participate, and learn from you how we can all contribute to creating a more just, caring, and respectful world for all members of the Rockland Trust family and for our communities.

Chris O