IHC Global Statement on the Death of George Floyd

WASHINGTON, DC, June 5, 2020- Today, IHC Global released the below reflection on the death of George Floyd and urban equity around the world.

The death of George Floyd has put a human face on the casual brutality that in the United States has far too often been directed towards people of color, particularly African Americans. We are heartbroken and outraged.  Black Lives Matter.  IHC Global stands with those who want justice for George.  IHC Global stands with those who want a better and more decent world.

George Floyd’s death comes at a moment when so much of the world as we have known it has been upended. This is an unprecedented inflection point: the global pandemic means that everyone is experiencing the same thing, yet differences across geography and culture, equity disparities within local contexts, especially cities, means that everyone is experiencing it differently.

It is a compelling moment for soul-searching.  What has the world become?  Where is it headed?  What do we want it to be? Many of us will emerge from this time with altered priorities and perspectives. Very few of us could have imagined how fragile our social compact is.

It is urgent to reform policing tactics and racial biases in American cities. Worldwide, protesters have made the connection between incidents in American cities and turmoil within their own. Protesters in Paris, Rio de Janeiro, and Toronto are drawing attention to issues of policing and racial and economic disparities within their own cities.

Frequently, in cities where policing falls along racial and socioeconomic lines, the tension mirrors broader socioeconomic disparities: underinvestment in infrastructure and schools, difficulty accessing basic city services, poverty and dearth of job opportunities, and vulnerability to climate change.

IHC Global has long advocated for redressing disparities in equity and inclusion in cities around the world. Today, as we stand with those who demand justice and equity, we recognize that many of the critical equity issues in the developing world and Global South are present in our own cities. We stand in solidarity with those that have made that connection in Paris, Rio, Toronto, Tel Aviv, Berlin, and many more.

The physical and economic toll of COVID-19 has been immense worldwide. Record-breaking unemployment, small businesses forced to close temporarily, and widespread social unrest shed light on the stark consequences of inequality. Before COVID-19 and before the death of George Floyd, 2019 saw urban unrest boil over in Paris, Berlin, Beirut, Delhi, Tehran, and far more.  The protests of 2020 are undoubtedly part of a broader discontent with inequity and exclusion in cities shown in access to healthcare, economic security and opportunity, justice, and now access to COVID-19 infection and death rate. This has serious consequences for the most vulnerable populations in the United States and across the globe. More than one billion live in slums, 700 million live on less an $2 a day and 71.5 million forcibly displaced into crowded refugee camps and urban centers.  IHC Global also stands with them.

The converging forces of the pandemic, economic havoc and social unrest confirms for me the foundational importance of equitable urban development. It also confirms that we need a comprehensive approach.  Just institutions of government, job opportunities, decent housing and living conditions, access to services such as health care and education, a safety net for when times get tough are what people need and want. 

It is a time for a national and also a global coming together to bring about intentional and systemic change.  We must harness the resources and talent we have.  Do we have the necessary vision and understanding?  Do we have the collective will?   Do we have local, national and global leadership that is not afraid to stand up for what is right and just?  We also each have our own roles to play.  Small tangible actions by each of us, when added together, can bring about big change:  Speaking up, actively supporting those in favor of a more equal and equitable world, making the individual difference that each of us can, calling out unfairness when we see it, making our leaders accountable for the common good, contributing our creativity and effort to bring about change. . . and so many others

I profoundly hope that we will see inequality as an enemy as powerful as the virus.  It, like the pandemic, must also be vanquished by purposeful action.  For George Floyd.  For all the other innocent victims.  For us all.

With IHC Global’s appreciation and my own good wishes for your safety and well-being,

Judith Hermanson

President and CEO


Natalie R. Gill
Program and Policy Coordinator
Office: (301) 718- 4823
Email: ngill@ihcglobal.org