End Police Violence

The recent announcement of the upgraded charges against Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin and the arrest of the remaining three officers whose actions and inaction made them complicit in the murder of George Floyd was a necessary but far from sufficient response to the broader issues of abusive and deadly violence of law enforcement, particularly against Black individuals and communities. As if to confirm that the killing of George Floyd, and all of the other Black people whose lives were ended wrongfully at the hands of police, were not isolated incidents but were instead systemic, law enforcement personnel all over the country have waged a violent, indiscriminate assault on people protesting law enforcement practices which violate both law and basic human decency. Those attacks have exposed America’s shame to people throughout the country and the world and have sparked universal outrage.

That outrage must continue in order to end the cycle of discrimination and violence that has beset the United States from its founding. For too long, that cycle has been fed by a cruelly distorted sense of national priorities. A country that cannot provide sufficient medical equipment to fight a pandemic, fails to provide safe employment opportunities which provides for a living wage, fails to support its public schools adequately, and is unable to provide decent housing,  but is never at a loss for tear gas, rubber bullets and military-grade equipment is one that has lost its way. And when the effect of these failures are felt consistently and disproportionately by people of color and particularly Black people, it is a clear sign of a civil and human rights catastrophe.

The deadly pattern of discrimination will no more end with the arrest of four men in Minneapolis than health, employment and economic equality will end with finding a vaccine for COVID-19. The fissures that tear apart our society are much too wide to be masked over. We must confront the reality of abusive police practices and the effect of COVID-19 on Black individuals and communities and face the fact that those individuals and communities have been set up for the suffering they have experienced for centuries.

We cannot forget Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Dion Johnson, David McAtee, and all of the countless others who have been killed or brutalized when no camera has captured it. We commit to joining in solidarity with the efforts initiated by Black-led groups calling for the immediate end to the abusive and illegal policing of the Black community. We call for the defunding of police departments and the application of those funds to programs that will provide meaningful opportunity to full access to employment, healthcare, education and housing for Black communities and other communities who have been deprived of those opportunities. And we commit to not falling prey to despair and to continue to fight for racial and economic justice—justice which has been delayed for far too long.