Statement on the murder of Walter Wallace, Jr.

Press Release
Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Statement on the murder of Walter Wallace, Jr.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center mourns the loss of Walter Wallace, Jr. and condemns the violent, excessive use of force that took his life. The sadness and frustration we feel upon hearing of yet another Black man killed by police is shared by the entire Black community. Two officers fired 14 shots that killed Mr. Wallace in the streets of Philadelphia while his mother did her best to defuse the situation. We ask the entire community of individuals committed to ending systemic racism to join us in advocating for change so that entire segments of our population no longer have to live in fear for simply being in a place at a time. The sadness of mourning those unjustly taken too soon and the frustration of condemning violent acts at the hands of entities sworn to protect us has become so routine in this nation that we struggle to find new ways to express them.

However, we must not become discouraged. We must not become complacent. We must persevere and continue to call out hate, racism and implicit bias where we see it. We must have the courage to demand for systemic change so that calls for help do not end with cries for justice. We must come together and continue to push for meaningful change, such as ensuring that our law enforcement officials are properly equipped with the skills and the personnel to address mental health issues, and are hired and trained in a manner that does not permit implicit bias to rear its violent head.

For those in this nation, and currently in the city of Philadelphia, who are mourning, who are hurting, who are angry, I challenge you to channel those emotions toward advocacy. Make your voices heard now and on November 3, but do so peacefully. We cannot mourn the loss of Mr. Wallace, we cannot honor his life by threatening the life of others. Protest vigorously to make your voices heard, but do so peacefully, so that we can mend our country without adding more scars.

Woodrow Keown, Jr.

President & COO
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

About the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opened in August 2004 on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. Since then, more than 1.3 million people have visited its permanent and changing exhibits and public programs, inspiring everyone to take courageous steps for freedom. Two million people have utilized educational resources online at, working to connect the lessons of the Underground Railroad to inform and inspire today’s global and local fight for freedom. Partnerships include Historians Against Slavery, Polaris Project, Free the Slaves, US Department of State and International Justice Mission. In 2014, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center launched a new online resource in the fight against modern slavery,
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