WASHINGTON, DC, June 2, 2020 – Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron issued the following statement:
“Our nation is facing a great reckoning. The tragic murder of George Floyd last week was only the latest senseless death of an African-American citizen at police hands. The world watched the shocking footage of Derek Chauvin holding his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, but only the video evidence distinguished it from so many other police killings. Alliance for Justice expresses its deepest sympathies to George Floyd’s family, friends, and loved ones and to all people coping with this callous disregard for life.
But sadness is not enough.
Alliance for Justice praises the courageous protesters, Black organizers, and advocates who have built movements demanding recognition that Black Lives Matter and that our justice system requires systemic change on a massive scale. Every day for the past week, these protesters have peacefully put their bodies on the line in the midst of a deadly pandemic only to be brutalized by a militarized police force. While the president was threatening to invade our cities with the U.S. military, police were violently attacking peaceful protesters outside the White House just to clear a path for him to make a disgusting photo op. Attorney General Bill Barr, who is supposed to protect the nation’s laws and defend civil liberties, personally ordered that police assault and likewise prowled the streets of D.C. throughout the night to oversee the unprecedented use of militarized force.
The fate of our democracy is on the line. Every time these authorities launch tear gas, pepper spray, flash bangs, and physical force upon the American people, they are compromising the freedoms of assembly and press guaranteed by our First Amendment. We cannot claim to stand for justice if the very forces that oppress us are allowed to determine the limits of our protest. We must pursue a comprehensive rethinking of our nation’s law enforcement, because anything short of that tolerates a status quo in which the police only protect some while threatening all others.
Alliance for Justice has long advocated for a justice system that protects the vulnerable and guarantees the rights and privileges of the law to all people, and we will continue to do so. We need jurists who will uphold the Constitution, who will hold police accountable for their enforcement of our laws, and who will ensure that no individual is improperly punished for exercising their rights.
But if you lose your life before you can even enter the courtroom, it doesn’t matter who your presiding judge is. We need an unqualified end to qualified immunity. Its existence entitles the police to enact ruthless violence, often according to the color of someone’s skin, without fear of consequence. So long as the forces entrusted to keep us safe are the ones endangering our bodies and our freedoms, there can be no justice. As Martin Luther King Jr. said in his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech, ‘we can never be satisfied’ until we end ‘the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.’
We cannot restore George Floyd’s life. But we can and we must bring an end to police brutality. If we cannot achieve that goal, then we will continue to fail Black Americans.”
(Photo Credit: Flickr/Johnny Silvercloud)