Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels sent the message below to the university community on Tuesday, a day after violent protests and unrest erupted across Baltimore.
Dear Faculty, Students, and Staff:
Those of us who call Baltimore home are deeply saddened by the violence that erupted across our city yesterday following the tragic death of Freddie Gray while in police custody.
We condemn this violence and, in particular, its devastating effect on the neighborhoods where it occurred. Further, we join those who are endorsing the urgency of a full and independent investigation of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Gray's death. It is essential that all of our city's citizens have trust and confidence in professional and fair treatment by our police.
We also recognize, and must acknowledge, the frustration felt in communities across this country, born of continuing racial disparities in education, employment, and criminal justice.
There is no excuse for the violence that afflicted our city yesterday, but we must be willing to confront the larger implications of this moment. It will take committed efforts of organizations across Baltimore, as well as strong local and state leadership, to continue to bend the trajectory of this great city, and to create more and better opportunities for our citizens.
Contrary to the endless loop of negative images the world saw last night, we know that Baltimore is not beleaguered, but resolute, inventive, and vibrant. There are many accomplishments for which we can be proud: a dynamic health, scientific, and educational sector; a thriving arts and cultural scene; and a burgeoning number of innovative businesses and community organizations.
Our university takes seriously the opportunity and obligation of our role as an anchor institution within Baltimore. But as the events of the past week remind us, there is more to do.
In dignified and peaceful protests across the city, we have heard the calls for reform, and we must challenge ourselves to listen and to respond.
This is a trying time. But with patience, fortitude, and the determination that is our city's trademark, I am confident that we will become stronger. Our city will not be defined by the spasms of violence it suffered this week, but by the resilience and optimism of those who are fortunate to work, live, and learn within its boundaries.
Ronald J. Daniels