On this national day of mourning for George Floyd and countless others, we reach out to you with words of solace and a call for hope and action. As if COVID-19 was not already decimating our communities across the United States, we are confronted by the continued dehumanization of Black lives by police officers and vigilantes who take the lives of Black people without remorse and with virtual impunity. This disturbing reality is something that we must all face head on and seek to change.
We mourn the loss of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and countless others who have come before them. So often issues of national political importance lose sight of gender and render women invisible. So often we forget to honor the lives of women in the same breath that we honor the lives of men who have been murdered at the hands of police officers. We must Say Her Name. We mourn the loss of Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Deborah Danner, Koryn Gaines, India Kager, Shelly Frey, Tanisha Anderson, Natasha McKenna, Shantel Davis, Michelle Cusseaux, Kayla Moore, and countless others who have come before them. There are just too many names…too many Black lives that have been taken.
Our hearts go out to all of the family members who have had a loved one’s life stolen from them due to senseless acts of police violence and negligence. We echo their demands for justice and their calls for real structural and systemic change.
We stand in solidarity with the brave hearts engaging in principled protest in our streets. We stand with those fighting against the unlawful and inhumane killings of Black women and men by police officers. We stand with all those marching and working to hold police officers accountable for their crimes against both humanity and our nation.
We are in desperate need of transformative change and we demand it now. We need and demand laws that actually regulate policing. We need and demand laws that clearly define penal consequences for unlawful police behavior, including an officer’s use of the choke hold, failure to de-escalate volatile situations and failure to intervene when witnessing another officer’s unlawful acts. It goes without saying that police misconduct should not be investigated by the police department at the heart of the misconduct. We need a national standard for regulating police behavior.
On the state level, we need to repeal Police Secrecy Law 50-a, which shields law enforcement misconduct, disciplinary issues and failed police disciplinary processes from public view. We must also re-think our approach to public safety. Police officers should not be first responders for a mental health crisis or to deal with the homeless. We need to strategically defund police and reallocate these resources to better provide youth and social services, including increasing healthcare access, food security, homes for people without homes, domestic violence services, mental health services, quality education, and job training in our most vulnerable communities.
As a nation, we are hurting. We are in a time of unprecedented insecurity and vulnerability, particularly for Black and Brown people and immigrants. The use of military force to dominate the American people in order to quell protest should not have been the President’s first response to a nation of souls hurting and reeling from the aftershocks of another Black person unjustly killed by police officers without regard for the sacredness of Black life. The President’s call for the “domination” of protesters exercising their constitutional rights in our streets was once again an irresponsible use of his presidential authority. We need national leadership. We need it on a host of important issues, including, but not limited to, police brutality, and intersectional gender, racial and economic justice.
Now is the time to mobilize and have those difficult conversations with friends, family, government officials and anyone who will engage in dialogue with us. This is why so many of us have taken to the streets. We need to change the hearts and minds of people who do not believe as we do that Black Lives Matter. We need to change the hearts and minds of people who do not believe as we do that our nation cannot withstand four more years of a Trump presidency. We need to change the hearts and minds of people who do not believe that women can and must lead.
It will take all of us to make transformative and lasting change. We believe, as did Civil Rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer before us that “until all of us are free, none of us are free.” We are all truly in this together. We must, each of us, all work to bring about the change that our nation needs in order for it to truly be the land of the free.
Board President, NOW-NYC
Executive Director, NOW-NYC
Educate, Activate & Persist
What will you do NOW to fight for our collective freedom?
1. Learn how to educate yourself and others, take action, and get out the vote for change:
2. Donate to Bailout Funds
3. Advocate for Justice & Reforms