George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray—all of them sons and daughters, some of them mothers and fathers, and all beloved, stolen Black lives. Today, African Americans face the same systemic and systematically enacted white supremacist power structures whose origins are inextricably intertwined with slavery itself. While white Americans remain constant beneficiaries of white supremacy, Black and Brown lives bear the brunt of its still-continuing legacy in our nation. Inseparable from this history is the presence of law enforcement as a mechanism to perpetuate these forces.
Racism’s ugly destruction of Black lives in America is nothing new and yet still surrounds us, as it did in the Tulsa massacre 99 years ago, as in the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and as shown by the disproportionate suffering of Black and Brown communities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Through every era of communal suffering, Black Americans have been terrorized and traumatized by the brute force of policing.
Our American system of racist law enforcement can be traced to the abduction and enslavement of Black lives centuries ago, and it directly caused the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. As in the past, law enforcement is crushing Black and Brown communities. At the same time, it is the police who are tear-gassing, shooting, pepper-spraying, and beating demonstrators in the streets of American cities. In JusticeAid’s short seven-year history, we have focused on the intersection of criminal injustice and racial inequality in America, including mass incarceration, denial of access to justice for the poor and people of color, wrongful conviction, and more—all of them issues closely linked to policing.
JusticeAid’s issue focus for 2020 to combat voter suppression and facilitate voter engagement takes on even greater importance in light of the pain and trauma that our nation is vocalizing. JusticeAid will continue to spotlight racial inequality in America with renewed attention to the many ways in which policing catalyzes racist injustices. We hear the cries to defund the police and reinvest in Black and Brown communities. And we stand in solidarity with all who demand justice, as a truly equal America cannot be realized until we dismantle our nation’s deeply rooted racist constructs, including racist police policies.