Fellow Xavierites,

It is with a heavy heart that I write this letter on behalf of the Xavier University of Louisiana Student Government Association, to offer our sincerest condolences to the families of Mr. Alton Sterling (Baton Rouge, LA), Mr. Philando Castile (Falcon Heights, MN) and five Dallas Police Officers. One officer has been identified as Patrick Zamarripa and another as Dallas Area Rapid Transit Officer Brent Thompson.

Mr. Sterling and Mr. Castile’s lives were cut short after encounters with officers from the Baton Rouge (Louisiana) and the St. Anthony (Minnesota) Police Departments. These encounters resulted in numerous close range gun shots, ultimately ending their lives.

Mr. Zamarripa and Mr. Thompson were among 12 officers shot down on duty and two of the five killed in retaliation for Mr. Sterling and Mr. Castile’s deaths. These officers died while maintaining order, protecting and serving those in downtown Dallas who held a peaceful vigil sparked by police shootings earlier in the week.

This is a sensitive and emotionally charged time in the African American community. It is natural to experience heightened and unexpected emotional responses. The Xavier University of Louisiana Counseling and Wellness Center is available to counsel and console students, faculty, and staff during this difficult time. Please reach out to them at: 504-520-7315 or visit the St. Joseph Student Academic and Health Resource Center, 2nd floor, Room 202. You may also visit their website at http://www.xula.edu/counseling/index.html.

At Xavier University of Louisiana, we seek to promote a more just and humane society and in doing so we hope to produce young adults who are active and aware members of their communities. We urge all Xavier students, faculty, and staff to VOTE in the upcoming Presidential election. Voting in local and national elections is one of the most effective ways to shape the future of this country. We also encourage Xavier students and members of the New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas to reach out to their congressional representatives and demand reforms and legislation preventing incidents like this from occurring again. Representative Cedric Richmond, of Louisiana’s 2 nd Congressional District, proudly serves as the representative for both Xavier University as well as the area where Mr. Sterling was killed. He has made great strides to push legislation and make a change in this nation. Lastly, we ask that all Xavier students participating in protests, rallies, and/or marches surrounding the tragic events of this week to be cautious, safe, and peaceful.

We stand in solidarity with Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch’s reaction to these senseless and vengeful killings of late. “This has been a week of profound grief and heartbreak and loss,” Lynch said. “After the events of this week, Americans across our country are feeling a sense of helplessness, uncertainty and fear … but the answer must not be violence.”

As future leaders of America, our voices do matter. We are now charged with the task of not only ensuring our voices are heard, but also being the voices of the victims who have lost their lives July 8th, 2016 to gun violence in some form. We must continue to fight for equality and a nation that is safe for all citizens.

God Bless America, and God Bless Xavier University of Louisiana.

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Sincerely,

Sierra Blanchard-Hodge

Xavier University of Louisiana Student Government Association President Elect 2016-2017

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