Boston Mayor Marty Walsh encouraged all of Boston to participate in a nationwide moment of silence for George Floyd Thursday afternoon, and pledged to make Boston a leader in a national effort to address systemic racism.

Floyd died after a Minneapolis police officer pinned him to the pavement with his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, setting off a wave of nationwide protests, some of which have ended in violent clashes with police.

The moment of silence will last 8 minutes and 46 seconds beginning at 3:45 eastern.

“I'm participating in this and I ask everyone to please participate in the moment of silence,” Walsh said at a midday press briefing. Floyd’s death, “has brought out real pain that has existing in this city for a long, long time,” Walsh said, and city leaders need to listen “to the voices and messages of our black neighbors who are harmed by systemic racism every day.”

Not only city leaders, he added: “It’s time for the white community to listen.”

“I am committed to making real change,” Walsh said. “I pledge my commitment to making Boston a national leader in healing the wounds of our history and buildng a more just future.”

The mayor said he was not prepared to announce specific steps to address racism like Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone’s declaration that racism is a public health emergency. Walsh said he doesn’t want to simply “respond” to protests. “Rather than responding, how do we really create systemic change?” he asked. He said city officials are considering a range of policy changes and will have more to announce in the near future.

It is not the first time Walsh has promised to address racial equity in Boston. Shortly after the 2016 presidential election, Walsh launched a citywide series of conversations about combating racism, and he said it was the start of "a new chapter in Boston's history."

"We are about to take a race conversation to the city of Boston to completely heal the wounds of the past," Walsh said at the time.

But he also said "these conversations never end" and he would expect to be back year after year returning to the question of what progress Boston is making toward racial equity.

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