SALT LAKE CITY — In a social media post on Monday afternoon, President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said church leaders are saddened by recent evidences of racism and “abhor the reality that some would deny others respect.”

The message also addressed the violence and rioting that took place over the weekend connected to protests of the death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer who since has been fired and charged with murder and manslaughter, knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while restraining him on May 25.

Black America can’t breathe

President Nelson’s entire post said:

“We join with many throughout this nation and around the world who are deeply saddened at recent evidences of racism and a blatant disregard for human life. We abhor the reality that some would deny others respect and the most basic of freedoms because of the color of his or her skin.

“We are also saddened when these assaults on human dignity lead to escalating violence and unrest.

“The Creator of us all calls on each of us to abandon attitudes of prejudice against any group of God’s children. Any of us who has prejudice toward another race needs to repent!

“During the Savior’s earthly mission, He constantly ministered to those who were excluded, marginalized, judged, overlooked, abused, and discounted. As his followers, can we do anything less? The answer is no! We believe in freedom, kindness and fairness for all of God’s children!

“Let us be clear. We are brothers and sisters, each of us the child of a loving Father in Heaven. His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, invites all to come unto him—“black and white, bond and free, male and female.” It behooves each of us to do whatever we can in our spheres of influence to preserve the dignity and respect every son and daughter of God deserves.

“Any nation can only be as great as its people. That requires citizens to cultivate a moral compass that helps them distinguish between right and wrong.

“Illegal acts such as looting, defacing, or destroying public or private property cannot be tolerated. Never has one wrong been corrected by a second wrong. Evil has never been resolved by more evil.

“We need to foster our faith in the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.

“We need to foster a fundamental respect for the human dignity of every human soul, regardless of their color, creed or cause.

“And we need to work tirelessly to build bridges of understanding rather than creating walls of segregation.

“I plead with us to work together for peace, for mutual respect and for an outpouring of love for all of God’s children.”

President Nelson has worked on racial issues with American black leaders since early in his administration.

In May 2018, five months after he became the church’s president and prophet, President Nelson stood with the senior leaders of the NAACP to issue a joint call for racial harmony.

“Today, in unity with such capable and impressive leaders as the national officials of the NAACP,” he said then, “we are impressed to call on people of this nation, and indeed, the entire world, to demonstrate greater civility, racial and ethnic harmony and mutual respect.”

Since then, President Nelson and NAACP President Derrick Johnson, Chairman Leon Russell and Vice Chairwoman Karen Boykin-Towns have nurtured ongoing relationships that have led to a unique NAACP/Latter-day Saint partnership that customizes the church’s self-reliance programs to help economically disadvantaged blacks in some of America’s largest cities.

President Nelson spoke to the NAACP’s 2019 national convention, declaring “We want to become dear friends.”

President Nelson and the Rev. Amos Brown, chairman of the NAACP’s religious affairs committee, have become particularly close. Brown introduced President Nelson to the convention as “a brother of another mother,” as seen in a Church News video.

NAACP board member Theresa Dear has written a series of guest opinion columns for the Deseret News, including one published on Saturday about George Floyd’s death.