June 2, 2020
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
My heart is heavy this night as I see once again streets filled with people in peaceful protest being forcefully suppressed by police in military riot gear. We may join in sorrow with the family of George Floyd but know that tears are useless unless we act. Righteous rage at the violent response of authorities to peaceful protests across the land must translate into action.
We as a nation once again must confront the truth of our country: systemic racism is woven in the fabric of America. It is evident in the wealth gap – the health gap – the education gap – the environmental injustice – the inequity inherent in the system of justice. All these injustices persist, even thrive, because we who are wealthy enough, have health care, assume that justice is ours, and experience no overt hatred have allowed such conditions to exist among us. We take care not to see. We go out of our way not to feel.
This day we are called again to confront the worst that is in our society. We cannot hide, pretending that this is not our battle. We must stand with our Brothers and Sisters and acknowledge that the system we all endure has failed. As the workers and townspeople stood together in solidarity to battle unjust and unsafe conditions in the Battle of Homestead in 1892, so we must stand in solidarity and assert the moral truth: Murdering a man for an unproven accusation with complicity from four police officers is wrong. “Innocent until proven guilty” too often does not apply when the accused is a person of color and the enforcers are white.
The outrage of true Americans has surfaced again from the depths of delusion. Those who marched for Civil Rights in the 60s, celebrated the election of President Barak Obama and rejoiced in the growth of black community leaders now must stand up and join in the demands that call for justice.
We are none of us free until we take responsibility for the rights of the downtrodden. None of us are free as long as our fellow citizens are abused before the law. We are all guilty if we stand by in silence while our fellow citizens suffer injustice, abuse and despair. Those of us who do not bear the daily burden of hatred must stand up and lift that yoke of racist hatred from the backs of our Brothers and Sisters. Freedom is not free- it comes with a responsibility to fight for justice, to act for fairness, and to demand accountability from those in power.
When people have reached the limit of their frustration at a system that does not hear them, the scene is set for a revolt. When people lose confidence in their government to protect their rights and preserve their safety, we descend into chaos. When our leaders use their power for oppression and fear, it is time for all of us to stand up together and say No More!
It is WRONG for police to fire tear gas, rubber bullets and flash grenades into crowds of people standing together singing for justice. It is wrong to expect people sprayed with tear gas, rubber bullets and flash grenades to behave peacefully! It is wrong to criminalize citizens as the exercise their Constitutional right to protest.
The power of America is vested through the Constitution in The People – It is time for us to take it back!
Three actions you can take now:
- Donate to the Protest Bail Funds: https://www.communityjusticeexchange.org/nbfn-directory
- Join The Poor Peoples Campaign founded in 1967 by Martin Luther King, now calling for a Moral March on Washington on June 20, 2020 virtual and realhttps://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org
- Volunteer to Get Out The Vote in November 2020.
Other organizations and actions to support:
- Support the NAACP’s #wearedonedying petition to press for immediate action regarding the killing of George Floyd.
- Support Minneapolis’s “Reclaim the Block” petition to cut the city’s Police Department budget to reinvest into community development. This can become a model for other cities to follow.
- Support Black Lives Matter’s national #DefundthePolice campaign
- Read Tamika Butler’s blog post “Stop Killing Us: A Real Life Nightmare” Tamika is former executive director of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust and former executive director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, and a leading advocate for social justice in planning.
- Read “A Letter to White Urbanists,” a call to those who are white to act by Alicia John Baptiste, CEO, and President of SPUR.
- Read EcoDistricts’ Board Member Julian Agyeman’s op-ed, “Poor And Black ‘Invisible Cyclists’ Need To Be Part Of Post-Pandemic Transport Planning Too.”
- Read Ibram X. Kendi’s piece “Who Gets to Be Afraid in America?” in response to Ahmaud Arbery’s murder while out for a run.
- Read Dr. Robert Bullard’s piece, “The Quest for Environmental Justice and The Politics of Place and Race.” Dr. Bullard is considered the “father” of environmental justice.
- Listen to Code Switch’s podcast “A Decade of Watching Black People Die.”
- See Crack Magazine’s “How to support the Black Lives Matter movement – Funds and Organisations Who Need Your Help.”
- See “The Cities We Need,” an in-depth op-ed series by the New York Times calling for a new and ambitious era of inclusive urban reinvestment.
Patricia DeMarco is Treasurer of the Battle of Homestead Foundation.