Washington, D.C. — In response to the death of George Floyd and the anti-black racism in connection with his murder, People For the American Way (PFAW) Senior Director of Outreach and Public Engagement Diallo Brooks released the following statement:
“This week has brought brutal reminders of the way that anti-black racism embedded in our culture, our politics, and our justice system diminish, threaten, and destroy the lives of black people in this country.
“Individual accountability is important. A police officer who murders a suspect in custody should be arrested and jailed—it took days of public outcry for Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin to be arrested for the death of George Floyd. Someone who hunts down and shoots a black man they don’t like seeing in their neighborhood should be arrested and jailed—and not months after the killing. A white woman who files a police report falsely claiming that a black man is threatening her life should be charged with the crime she committed.
“Holding individuals accountable is necessary, but is not enough to stop the list of victims of racism from growing. Americans must acknowledge and dismantle the systems built over the centuries that were designed to perpetuate social, economic, and political inequality. Many of those systems are still in place, functioning as they were designed to do. We are seeing their deadly impact in the ways that the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout have fallen most heavily on black and brown people in this country.
“President Trump’s threat to start shooting protesters is reprehensible. So are the ways he has joked about and encouraged police violence. But let’s be clear that Trump is a symptom of a much deeper problem. He has the twisted gift of tapping into the streams of bigotry that flow throughout our history, sometimes just below the surface, and sometimes as obvious as a police offer who apparently felt so confident in his immunity from accountability that he could kill a black man, slowly, in front of cameras and a crowd of people demanding that he stop.
“I am hoping that the flagrant injustice of George Floyd’s killing—and the long list of people who preceded him—will make more Americans willing to look honestly at the systems of oppression at work in this country every day. And encourage them to end the deafening silence and inaction so they can not only imagine but create an America in which these kinds of inequities and violence no longer suppress black Americans.
“Imagine an America in which black and brown people do not have to overcome systemic prejudice or live in fear of racist violence from their neighbors or their government. Imagine how such an America would benefit from the outpouring of ingenuity and community that would be generated when all of us are free to flourish. Imagine it, and then commit to doing the hard work to make it happen.”
About People For the American Way
People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and build a democratic society that implements the ideals of freedom, equality, opportunity and justice for all. We encourage civic participation, defend fundamental rights, and fight to dismantle systemic barriers to equitable opportunity. Learn more: https://www.pfaw.org.