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General statement by scientists in support of people protesting police brutality against Black communities
George Floyd was killed May 25 by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A few days earlier, Christian Cooper could have suffered the same fate when a white woman lied to the police about being threatened by him. These aren’t isolated incidents but examples of the long-standing daily horror of being Black in the United States and many parts of the world.

As scientists, we believe that science is a human endowment, that it belongs to everyone and that everyone deserves to participate in its development. We believe we can and must do more to create a society where Black people are treated with respect and consideration by ensuring a welcoming, supportive environment in our institutions of higher learning -- this is both morally imperative and it improves our science. It is our responsibility to end the obstructive processes that encumbered great Black scientists such as Marie M. Daly, Percy Julian, Katherine Johnson, and Mae Carol Jemison, and prevented unaccounted others from taking their rightful place as respected knowledge creators and educators of young people.

We are also aware that the world owes unpayable debts to the countless Black people who suffered and died involuntarily for scientific advancement -- from Henrietta Lacks, whose cancer cells were stolen and used to generate profits without any compensation, to the hundreds of Black men who were lied to and denied treatment for syphilis while they were studied for four decades in the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. We will no longer participate in ignoring or minimizing how much science was built on the suffering of Black people.

We are angry and horrified that Black people continue to suffer daily abuse and indignities at the hands of white authorities -- including from within science and academia. As such, we the undersigned, support Black protestors and their allies in the fight to end police brutality against Black people and pledge to fully support Black scholars as a means to ending racism.
(This letter was written by the ‘Empirical Methods in Cognitive Linguistics’ oversight committee. We thank Christina Bergman, Chris Chambers, and Juan Luna Díaz-Durán for helpful comments. Please direct inquiries to

(This statement and signatures will be made available to the media)

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