Connecticut Treasurer Shawn T. Wooden said he related to the events preceding the fatal February shooting of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, where Mr. Arbery was captured on video entering a construction site several days before a fatal encounter with two white men, a father and son, now charged with murdering him while he was jogging in Georgia.
Mr. Wooden said, just days before he saw the video reported in the news, he had done "the exact same thing," looking at a construction site while jogging through his neighborhood.
"If you're a black man, is curiosity a death sentence? My son is a runner and asked me is it safe for him to jog," said Mr. Wooden, who is currently the only African-American elected state treasurer in the U.S.
Billionaire Robert F. Smith, the founder of Austin, Texas-based Vista Equity Partners Management LLC, shared the experience of the death of his uncle, who was shot by a white gas station attendant decades ago, in a recent staff memo republished in The New York Times.
"I was quite confused by this as my uncle, who had just received his masters degree and was recently married, was quite excited about having landed a job with the state of Colorado inspecting various facilities across the state," Mr. Smith recounted.
"Apparently this gas station attendant couldn't imagine why an African American would have a state gas card and felt the appropriate action was to shoot and kill him. This was almost 50 years ago, and the pain still lingers," Mr. Smith wrote.
The industry's response to the deaths of black Americans after encounters with police, including Mr. Floyd, Mr. Arbery, Breonna Taylor and others, comes on the heels of a racially charged incident involving a former employee of Franklin Templeton, Amy Cooper.
Ms. Cooper, who was head of insurance investment solutions for Franklin Templeton, according to her now-deleted LinkedIn profile, was fired by the company within 24 hours of a video going viral on Memorial Day. In the video, she is shown threatening to call the police on Christian Cooper, a birdwatcher in New York's Central Park, who had asked her to follow park rules and leash her dog.
In the video, Ms. Cooper can be heard calling the police and saying, "There is an African-American man. I am in Central Park. He is recording me and threatening myself and my dog."
In a statement on May 26, Franklin Templeton said it does not "tolerate racism of any kind" at the company.
"I applaud Franklin Templeton for their swift and transparent response, and their clear — in their actions and words — zero tolerance for racism," Mr. Wooden said.
Senior staff for the Connecticut treasurer have "had conversations with senior people within Franklin Templeton" about the Amy Cooper incident, as well as the broader question of Franklin Templeton's own diversity and inclusion efforts, he added.
As of April 30, Franklin Templeton managed about $994 million on behalf of the $34 billion Connecticut Retirement Plans & Trust Funds, of which the treasurer is the sole trustee, according to information provided by a spokeswoman for Mr. Wooden's office. CRPTF also has an equity exposure to Franklin Templeton and its affiliates, which stands at roughly $13.5 million, the spokeswoman said in an email.
"I will be having a conversation with the CEO to take it even further ... in regards to my call to action," Mr. Wooden said in a June 4 phone interview, adding that he is scheduled to speak Tuesday with Franklin Templeton president and CEO Jennifer M. Johnson.
In an op-ed published in the Hartford Courant on May 30, Mr. Wooden asked Wall Street and other businesses across America to "get off the sidelines" in the fight against racial injustice. "Joining with advocates, you have the power and the resources to change the trajectory of this country," Mr. Wooden said.
In many of their messages to employees, money management leaders noted that black America is battling police violence, systemic inequalities, as well as the threat of COVID-19, which has had a disproportionate impact on the black community.
Mr. Floyd's last minutes transpired with the 46-year-old handcuffed on the ground, repeating "I can't breathe,' while a white police officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Two other officers also held Mr. Floyd down, while a fourth stood watch. All four officers have since been fired and charged. The officer who pressed his knee into Mr. Floyd's neck was charged with second-degree murder on June 3, in addition to previously filed charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The other three officers were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Mr. Floyd also had tested positive for COVID-19 in early April, according to an autopsy report published by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office.