All over the Country and around the world, people continue to surge into the streets and speak out online in response to the police murder of George Floyd Breonna Taylor, and so many more. In response to peaceful protest against racist police violence, militarized police forces have responded with batons, tanks, tear gas and worse; all to protect capitalism and property instead of actual human, black, lives.
As many of us speak out in or communities at home, Congressional leaders are coming together to form a national response as well – and we need your help to push them to include bold, abolitionist demands when they do.
Since the 1960s, America’s racist system of over-policing and mass incarceration has grown out of control. The U.S. now spends close to $200 billion per year on police and prisons. At the same time Black communities are over-policed and over-incarcerated, they’ve been shut out of wealth and property ownership, which is why the racial gaps in wealth and health are so terrible. After centuries of economic injustice and environmental racism, Black people are now six times more likely to die from the coronavirus than white people.
We’ve partnered many times with Poor People’s Campaign in the last few years, and when we do, Rev. Barber always reminds us: To truly achieve justice, we must focus both on “who” and “what” oppresses and kills Black people in this country.
Trump’s racist, fascist rhetoric is dangerous and hurtful. But violent anti-Black racism has been built into our country since its founding, and simply removing Trump will not stop it or make us safe. Initially formed as slave patrols, police have always existed to maintain control rather than safety or justice.
We’re seeing that all too clearly right now, as militarized police forces use expensive equipment and weapons to terrorize protesters. Meanwhile, cities are setting curfews to instill fear and criminalize our constitutional right to protest. All to maintain the unjust status quo and delay justice. Could there be a clearer demonstration that this system is rotten at its core?
I know calls to DefundPolice can sound extreme. Many of you have emailed me back in response to our earlier messages expressing unease with the policy, or fear of how it will be enacted. It’s our policy to remove anyone expressing racist sentiments – including replying with versions of the racist talking point “all lives matter” – from our list and community.
So if you’re still here, you may not be comfortable with these demands, but you’re not overtly opposed to black life or black liberation. We encourage you to sit with your un-ease, especially if you are not black, so we can listen to and uplift the voices of black people.
Because in addition to being the right, anti-racist thing to do, following black leadership is effective. Since the Movement For Black Lives released their demands (which we’ve endorsed), leaders in our cities, states, and federal government have jumped to adopt them:
- In response to the demand to divest from the police and investment in Black communities:
- A veto-proof majority of Minneapolis City Council members are planning to disband MPD
- The LA City Council is proposing cutting $150 million from LAPD & LA’s mayor is identifying $250 million to move from various city departments into “health and education in the black community and other communities of color”
- In response to the demand that local schools, colleges, universities, and all public institutions cut ties with the police.
- The Minneapolis Public Schools board unanimously voted to terminate its contract with MPD & the city’s Parks and Recreation board voted unanimously the next night to cut ties with MPD
- Other school boards/districts are considering cutting ties with police departments or disbanding their own internal police forces
- In response to the demand that the rights of protestors be respected.
- Cities like Portland Oregon and Seattle have banned the use of tear gas (enforcement is an ongoing challenge);
- Cities around the country including Philadelphia, NYC, and Oakland have rescinded their curfews, which were used to harm protesters and take away our constitutional rights
- Federal troops have been pushed out of D.C.
- In response to our demand for an end to the war against Black people.
- All 4 officers involved in the murder of George Floyd have now been charged, and Derek Chauvin’s murder charge went up to 2nd degree (not 3rd degree). Though Breonna Taylor’s killers have still not been charged.
- And the U.S. Supreme Court is re-examining the “qualified immunity” doctrine, which makes it near-impossible to hold police officers accountable for misconduct.
- Reforms on policing are moving in state legislatures like Michigan and Colorado, in cities like Louisville and Minneapolis, and in Congress.
All of these actions in just the last few days and weeks show what our movement is capable of. Now, we’re asking you to sign on along with leading progressives in Congress to support the demand divestment from police and investment in our communities. Join us, and together, I believe that we will win.