Credit union leaders said they are committed to becoming part of the change in order to heal the nation torn apart by days of riots sparked by the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis last week.
“To the CUNA Mutual Group family: Our employees of color, they may need a shoulder to lean on, they may need to talk,” Robert Trunzo, president/CEO of CUNA Mutual Group, said in an emotional, five-minute videocast posted on LinkedIn. “They might want to talk about history, but they need all of you to understand that we have to acknowledge that history has to change and our cultural norms must change. And you know, it is not going to start in Washington, D.C., it’s not going to start in Madison, it’s going to start with all of us recognizing that this journey we have to embark on is not going to be easy.”
For CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle, the first step to that change begins this evening. And he invited the credit union community to join him.
“Monday night at 8pm, a week from the time #GeorgeFloyd was murdered, I’m going to pause and reflect for #8Minutes46Seconds about him, #RacismInAmerica, my #whiteprivilege and what I can do to make a difference in my own heart and community,” Nussle wrote in a separate LinkedIn post. “Mark the moment together; Only a start.”
A Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, was charged Friday with third-degree murder and manslaughter by the Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. Charges are reportedly pending against three other police officers.
Authorities said Chauvin put his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes, 46 seconds and died at the scene. Those video images of the incident that also recorded Floyd saying he could not breathe sparked public shock, outrage, and days of violent and destructive protests in Minneapolis and other cities across the U.S.
“I am not going to pretend and know the pain or the sorrow, or frankly the fear that people of color carry with them on a day to day basis,” Trunzo said. “But what I do know is that all of us at the CUNA Mutual family stand together with you. And you know, this [videocast] was difficult to write, very, very difficult to deliver. But you know what? It needs to be said … and our leaders of color, our employees of color, our partners and all of our members, you need to understand we hear you. I hear you.”
Trunzo said he wanted to use his videocast platform to discuss this important topic because black lives matter.
He noted that while the pandemic is having a huge impact on America with more than 100,000 deaths, African American and Hispanic communities have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 illness and death.
“It’s heartbreaking and our heart goes out to everyone,” he said. “It’s also heartbreaking to understand in view of what’s happening in our country right now. Over the last few weeks, yes, in our country, the United States of America, young African American men have been dying in circumstances that should never, ever happen. The events in Minnesota, Georgia and even in New York Central Park trigger emotions in all of us. I am at a loss for words. To our employees of color, our members and our partners, it is absolutely tragic, and when you are at a loss for words your emotion comes out. In my emotion it’s pretty clear, I am embarrassed about this country. I am deeply saddened and I am ashamed. And I know that all of us at CUNA Mutual feel the same way.”
As of Monday afternoon, Trunzo’s videocast received more than 3,000 views and 21 comments from credit union professionals who supported and praised his remarks.
“I am so proud to be a partner with CMG and the leadership of Bob Trunzo,” Diana Dykstra, president/CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, wrote. “I have been struggling with my emotions and your words allowed me time to cry be angry but most of all hopeful for a better future for all. Thank You.”