Statement on the police shootings of Jacob Blake and Trayford Pellerin

Press Release
Monday, August 25, 2020

Statement on the police shootings of Jacob Blake and Trayford Pellerin

"This weekend we witnessed once again Black men suffer unnecessary brutality at the hands of police. These incidents – the point blank shooting of Jacob Blake that left him hospitalized in Wisconsin and the killing of Trayford Pellerin in Louisiana – show that racism and racially-charged violence is not isolated to a particular region of this country. It is widespread and rampant. As a result, communities and a nation are once again grappling with pain, anger and fear as we see in real time the deadly effects of racism. Mr. Blake’s three young children witnessed police officers shoot their father seven times, and they will grow up haunted by this hatred and struggling to trust that they can safely have a place in this country.

The unnecessary brutality of this violence was captured in graphic detail. The world can plainly see the impact of our nation’s scourge of racism. But what I fear are those continued cases of racism-inspired violence that go undocumented, where lives are lost under the darkness of anonymity and those responsible are never made to answer for their hate. As I said just three short months ago, being Black in America should not be a death sentence.

We must do better. We must be better. We must hold those responsible for these hate crimes accountable. And we must hold ourselves accountable to call out racism and prejudice when we see it so that maybe, hopefully, we can end a violent act before it starts.

Our nation is right to feel anger in this moment. But we must have courage to choose humanity over hate. We are right to feel despair. But we must persevere. We are right to feel divided. But we must cooperate. Together, we can realize a nation where all may live free from fear, be treated equitably and celebrate the differences that make our world sing so beautifully through the diversity of our voices."

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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