In tandem with Blackout Tuesday, the collective Movement 4 Black Lives, a coalition of more than 100 black-rights organizations, is launching a “five days of action” in an effort to fight systemic racism.
Part of the effort is an “open demand” letter signed by Lizzo, John Legend, Taraji P. Henson, Natalie Portman, Jane Fonda, ACLU executive director Anthony Romero, and more that aims calls for a stop to increases on police budgets and to increase spending on health care, education, and programs for black communities. [“Black Lives Matter Cofounder Patrisse Cullors on Blackout Tuesday and How the Music Community Can Help“, 2 June 2020]
Here is the full open letter:
Black People Are Dying of Police Terror and Covid19. It is time to defund the police NOW
Black communities across the nation are mourning the deaths of George Floyd, tortured to death by Minneapolis police, Ahmaud Arbery, a jogger who was killed while running in a residential neighborhood in Brunswick, Georgia, Breonna Taylor an EMT killed while asleep in her bed in Louisville,KY, Dreasjon Reed in Indianapolis and Tony McDade in Tallahassee. Their names are added to a devastatingly long list of Black people who have been killed at the hands of vigilantes or law enforcement. Not to mention the others whose names we don’t yet know, and may never know since they were killed without a camera recording it.
At the same time, the United States leads the world in COVID-19 cases. So far, more than 100,000 people — enough to fill a football stadium– have perished from the virus, with over one million cases confirmed, and those numbers don’t reflect all the people dying from virus-related illnesses. Black people are suffering disproportionately from COVID-19, four times more likely to die than their white neighbors.
It is important to state this within the context of the scourge of anti-Black police terror and the resulting uprisings taking place across the U.S. The COVID-19 deaths and the deaths caused by police terror are connected and consequential to each other. The United States does not have a national healthcare system. Instead, we have the largest military budget in the world, and some of the most well-funded and militarized police departments in the world, too. Policing and militarization overwhelmingly dominate the bulk of national and local budgets. In fact, police and military funding has increased every single year since 1973, and at the same time, funding for public health decreased every year, crystallized most recently when the Trump administration eliminated the US Pandemic Response Team in 2018, citing “costs”.
The time has come to defund the police.
Black communities are living in persistent fear of being killed by state authorities like police, immigration agents or even white vigilantes who are emboldened by state actors. According to the Urban Institute, in 1977, state and local governments spent $60 billion on police and corrections. In 2017, they spent $194 billion. A 220 percent increase. Despite continued profiling, harassment, terror and killing of Black communities, local and federal decision-makers continue to invest in the police, which leaves Black people vulnerable and our communities no safer.
Where could that money go? It could go towards building healthy communities, to the health of our elders and children, to neighborhood infrastructure, to education, to childcare, to support a vibrant Black future. The possibilities are endless.
We join in solidarity with the freedom fighters in Minneapolis, Louisville, and across the United States. And we call for the end to police terror.
We call for defunding of police and for those dollars to be rerouted to create a public national healthcare system.
Join us in demanding your local officials take the pledge to:
Vote no on all increases to police budgets
Vote yes to decrease police spending and budgets
Vote yes to increase spending on Health care, Education, and Community programs that keep us safe.
No mention is made to reform the police — and that being a police officer is a noble endeavor, and that most police officers are good people trying to do their job
No mention is made of ending qualified immunity — where a government official is not personally held responsible for their actions.
No mention is made to work with the police to reform them.
No condemnation of the blacks — and whites — and their communities, harmed by riots and looting — and how disarming the good policeman leaves them at the mercy of murderers, rapists, and thugs.
The real terror is the destruction that the “no justice, no peace” mob has created.