Two years have passed since former police officer Derek Chauvin publicly lynched George Floyd, and millions of people witnessed Floyd’s final breaths on social media.Seven hundred thirty days since a gruesome display of white supremacy sparked the largest mass mobilization against anti-Black racism in U.S. history. Seventeen thousand five hundred twenty hours since people took to the streets to rise up against militarized policing, calling for decision-makers in city, state, and federal governments to defund the police and invest in a vision of public safety that works for everyone.
Yet, despite a national uprising and state-by-state demands to reimagine public safety, Joe Biden and other elected officials have failed to take meaningful action to address police violence. What few actions they have taken came only after we organized and made our demands clear.
In a country where Black life and self-determination are systematically disregarded and destroyed, the elected officials we vote into office must make unequivocal, bold transformations to the systems that keep us oppressed and in fear for our lives.
We won’t be gaslit. We know our value. Executive orders, federal investigations, failed reforms, consent decrees, and oversight measures are inadequate. Piecemeal reform efforts have proven ineffective and insufficient. They don’t work well enough or fast enough. We demand more.
We won’t be deceived. Policymakers tell us that our ideas are too radical and disruptive. We call bullshit. When the government wants to act, it acts. Just three years before Floyd was killed, state and local governments spent more than $240 billion on law enforcement: $114.5 billion on cops, $47.8 billion on courts (including civil courts), and $78.7 billion on corrections. All while telling us the programs that would feed, house, support, and sustain our communities are too expensive. We demand more.
We won’t be pacified. We won’t listen when electeds tell us that what we deserve is not politically viable or logistically possible. The people are ready. In 2020, when Minneapolis organizers presented voters with an opportunity to replace the police department with a department of public safety, almost half said yes! We demand more.
Over the decades, elected officials have made massive investments in surveillance, policing, mass criminalization, incarceration, and deportation that have devastated Black communities. The time is now for officials to make a major pivot in national priorities. We need to see a substantial divestment from massive spending on police that don’t keep us safe, to an enormous investment in a shared vision of community safety that works for everyone, not just some.
We need to invest in community-based transformative violence prevention and intervention strategies that offer support for criminalized populations; uncouple access to services, care, and support from the criminal punishment system; and provide reparations to survivors of police violence, and their families, as well as survivors of prison, detention, and deportation violence, and their families.
President Biden’s 2022 policing executive order is a poor excuse for the transformation of public safety that he promised the Black voters who put him in office. It’s also a shameful way to mark the memory of George Floyd. Read our statement in response here.
The safest communities in America don’t have the most police; they have the most resources. Memorialize George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and other Black people extrajudicially killed by police by divesting from harmful institutions and investing directly in our communities.
We will not stop until our people are free.
With fierce radical love,
Movement for Black Lives
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