The N.C. Conference of District Attorneys, representing the 43 elected district attorneys and over 1,500 prosecutors and administrative professionals across North Carolina, condemns the tragic and unnecessary loss of George Floyd’s life.

The unsanctioned use of police force that resulted in Mr. Floyd’s death should never have occurred. It directly contradicts our commitment to public safety. The fact that his death was at the hands of people sworn to protect and serve the public, makes this incident all the more devastating to our professional community. The behaviors of the officers involved do not represent the values and practices of thousands of law enforcement officers across our state who dedicate their lives so that others can live in peace.

This tragic event is not a reflection of all the hardworking men and women in uniform who serve and protect us every day. Excessive use of force by police has no place in our criminal justice system and should not be tolerated.

Recent public demonstrations across our country are demanding an end to racism, change and equity. This vibrant exercise of free speech should be celebrated as a means by which we can fully realize our promise as a country. However, the wide-spread violence and destruction that has accompanied some demonstrations should not be tolerated. They distract and detract from the message peaceful protestors are attempting to deliver. District attorneys are saddened and gravely concerned with how these crimes are affecting our communities. We need to promote diverse conversations and partnerships with everyone in our communities — not create more obstacles to progress.

As ministers of justice, district attorneys serve and attend to the needs of crime victims, the public and the accused. We seek justice guided by our core values of integrity, compassion and respect for every human being. Justice must be applied fairly, across the board, without fear or favor and should never be based on a person’s race, gender, religion or national origin.

Through our statewide organization, the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys, we are committed to identifying and providing training to prosecutors, law enforcement and allied professionals that increases their competencies and improves their decision-making ability. For nearly a decade, North Carolina prosecutors have participated in focused programs equipping them to recognize and confront implicit and confirmation bias.

We consistently offer programs on investigating law enforcement use of force, the need for transparency in the process and policies promoting public safety. District attorneys continue to convene best practice forums to improve service to our citizens and partnerships with our communities. We are dedicated to coming together, supporting each other and embracing and understanding our differences.

We are proud of our diverse state and the resilience of our citizens. Going forward, we must all be dedicated to eliminating racism and violence in our society. Public safety means that everyone should feel safe at home, at work, at play or in school. This cannot be achieved when any segment of our community fears the very people sworn to protect them.

As prosecutors, and as human beings, we remain committed to deliberate and fair justice, supporting the committed law enforcement who keep us safe and partnering with other community leaders to discuss and address social injustice in any form.