Our American communities are overwhelmed with grief. We are heartsick over the inhumanity we have witnessed in the recent deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery. We are appalled by the callous response from the authorities who seemed to shrug their responsibilities to keep all American citizens safe. Cities across the nation have erupted in anguish over the recent events. We are committed to racial justice. We share the protesters’ anguish and the heartbreak of our communities.
Some are inciting violence and mayhem. And there are those engaged in peaceful protest. No one should assume they are the same people, and we refute any attempt to discredit the just cause for which people are marching based on infiltrators bent on sabotage. We support the legal rights of citizens to engage in peaceful protest. We condemn the use of excessive force to dispel demonstrations.
We are hearing what Martin Luther King, Jr., famously called “the language of the unheard.” When George Floyd begged for his life as Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s throat, he was unheard. The onlookers pleading with Chauvin to stop were unheard. The cries for justice have gone unheard long enough. The long-overdue arrests of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers and one of the officers involved in George Floyd’s death are merely the first step in a long journey.
The Urban League Movement, which consists of affiliates across the country, has proposed specific recommendations for police reform and accountability. These include the widespread use of body cameras and dashboard cameras, revision of use-of-force policies, officer training, and hiring standards, and the immediate appointment of independent prosecutors to investigate police misconduct.
But even more than these measures, we need a revision of our American culture. It’s a culture that teaches a woman walking her dog in Central Park that she could potentially incite racially- motivated police brutality as a weapon to serve her preconceived prejudices and privileges.
As we pursue measures to reform policing in communities across the nation, we call upon all community leaders, elected officials and social institutions to join us in pursuing policies that promote racial reconciliation. We encourage all citizens to help eliminate the illegal injustices by participating in the political process by registering and voting in the upcoming elections. We must work together to eliminate injustice and inequalities for ALL.