When you are in the midst of a pandemic that for two and one-half months shut Hollywood and led to waves of layoffs and furloughs as agencies and studios try to stay afloat in a coronavirus pandemic that cost over 100,000 American lives, you might think things couldn’t get worse. Yet, who can remember seeing anything as disturbing as the long video of George Floyd — thrown in handcuffs over suspicion of passing a bogus $20 bill — treated with an unimaginable lack of empathy and humanity by four cops who either assisted Derek Chauvin as he knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, or did nothing to stop him as Floyd became unresponsive and died shortly after. The subsequent protests and riots, the polarizing reaction of President Trump, and law enforcement officers who arrested reporters for covering the story or, in Louisville, where a cop was seen on camera firing pepper balls at reporters during a live broadcast, leaves us in disbelief. What comforting words can a corporate leader offer staffers horrified by the violence rioting and burning buildings engulfing cities across the country? There are no words, but UTA chief Jeremy Zimmer tried last night in an internal email sent to agents that Deadline was slipped.
From: Jeremy Zimmer
Sent: Friday, May 29, 2020 8:24 PM
To: All UTA
Subject: Tonight In Our Country
As a community, it is impossible not to be horrified and angered by the events that have unfolded in Minnesota and Georgia, and too often throughout the country. The symbol of Colin Kaepernick kneeling foreshadowed a more horrendous vision—of a police officer kneeling on the neck of a dying man. The words “I can’t breathe” resonate with terror and sadness, representing the futile pleading of an innocent man being murdered by men sworn to protect him.
The pain and anguish being felt by the Black community is profound. Though many of us cannot know what it is to walk in their shoes, we can promise this: our UTA community will use our collective voices and whatever power we possess to ensure our colleagues are heard and supported, especially those too often required to face down assaults on their most basic rights and freedoms. As colleagues, friends, and citizens, we must not turn away. Our consciences demand we stand up for the principle that every one of us is created equal.
Our Inclusion team within UTA will lead the effort to ensure we take this commitment forward. This is the time for us to gain a deeper understanding of this experience, listen to our colleagues who are feeling it the most, and identify what we can do to bring about change. In the coming days, we will hear more from that team, along with our Foundation and others within our company.
As a family we mourn for lives lost, and we hope to do our part to ensure better days ahead for our country.
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