We are outraged at the killing of George Floyd and mourn the loss of countless Black lives to police and vigilante violence. These murders come at a time of astounding and disproportional fatalities of thousands of Black, brown and Indigenous Peoples from the COVID-19 pandemic. These are but two manifestations of the lethal ways that white supremacy operates in our economic and criminal justice systems, maintaining institutions of violence and discrimination. At the same time, we see disinvestment from life-saving public health, education, housing and food systems which are based on real community safety, justice and equity.
As a global justice organization, we have also witnessed this same white supremacy in the form of US military, economic and political interventions in the Global South, including the targeting of Afro-descendent Peoples and communities. Just last week, Edwin Fernández from Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH), was killed by 3 hooded men, as part of the ongoing attacks on the Garifuna community in Honduras by military, corporate and criminal forces. The struggle for Black lives is global.
We also know that many police departments in the US, including the Minneapolis PD, have participated in exchanges and trainings with Israeli military and security agency. Known by many of our allies (such as Jewish Voice for Peace) as the “Deadly Exchange,” these trainings are conducted by military forces whose illegal occupation of Palestine, violent suppression and torture are all-too-familiar to Grassroots International’s partners standing up for human rights in Palestine. We must stop this mutual reinforcement of racist police violence.
Despite the rage and grief, we are also inspired by loving and courageous acts of solidarity – from union bus drivers refusing to bring protesters to jail, to veterans that are part of About Face: Veterans Against the War writing a powerful letter urging Minnesota National Guard members not to participate in the suppression of community members demanding justice.
Ramon Mejía, an organizer with Grassroots Global Justice Alliance and member of About Face: Veterans Against the War, accompanied Grassroots International on a delegation to Palestine in 2018. Ramon shared this insight, “Militarism is a root cause of a number of our global and domestic issues. It prioritizes and glorifies the expansion and aggressive use of formal, organized state violence to further state interests. It threatens and harms the self-determination of peoples and nations abroad, while it’s simultaneously used as a tool of overwhelming control here at home.”
Black communities around the country are shining the light on a modern policing system that has its historical roots in catching runaway slaves and suppressing slave uprisings in the South. The system that condones such killing remains vicious and intent on preserving property instead of human lives, as evidenced by President Trump’s reckless tweets. The Movement for Black Lives is therefore putting out an overarching rallying call to end the war on Black people and to push for economic justice in Black communities; to defund police departments, and to invest instead in the health, education, jobs, and other social programs that we actually need. At Grassroots International, we hear this call, and lift up our voices to support what is becoming an unstoppable and growing movement for justice.
We call for justice for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Sean Reed, Dion Johnson, Tony McDade and countless others. We stand in solidarity with the struggle to defend Black lives in the US and around the world. We recommit ourselves to the long journey toward racial justice and collective liberation.
In the words of our friends at AgitArte in Puerto Rico, “May we keep walking together like our ancestors did to guarantee us a place in the future. May we keep tearing down walls, building up gardens and planting the seeds. La tierra espera. Our breath is sacred.”