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  • Writer's pictureSEIRN

State violence against Black lives must end

“There is a study that came out from the National Academy of Sciences, that police are the 6th leading cause of death for young men of color.” - Mustafa Santiago Ali, Ph.D.

The Southeast Immigrant Rights Network is outraged at the relentless killing of our Black brothers, sisters, and siblings at the hands of the State. We are infuriated at the blatant violence perpetrated by law enforcement on communities protesting against the brutal killings and the systemic dehumanizing and devaluing of Black lives.

At SEIRN we believe Black lives matter and hold this truth close to our hearts. We remember the stories and uplift the names of some of the most recent Black brothers, sisters, siblings murdered by the police:

“I can’t breathe.” Eric Garner said these words in New York City on July 17, 2014. These were the same words George Floyd would repeat six years later before his death. The officers involved in the incident were placed on administrative leave, and the officer who choked Eric Garner was fired. However, no federal charges were ever brought. His daughter Erica Garner fought for 3 years for justice for her father and family before she passed away from cardiac arrest.

Ahmaud Arbrey went for a run near his home in Georgia on February 23, 2020. Two white men, one of whom was a former police officer and investigator, hunted him down and shot him several times. No charges were brought until months later when the video of what had happened was released. District attorneys have recused themselves, while the community continues to demand justice.

Breonna Taylor was in her home in Louisville, KY on March 13, 2020. She was in bed with her partner when they heard their door rammed in the middle of the night. Then, a police officer barged in and began to shoot at her and her partner. She was shot 8 times. The district attorney in this case has also recused themselves. Charges originally placed on Breonna’s partner related to a registered firearm have been dropped. Investigations continue but no one has been held accountable.

“I can’t breathe.” These are the words that came from George Floyd on May 26 as he was abused and murdered by Minneapolis police. The report from the department has called his death a “medical incident”. But people who witnessed the brutal incident recorded it, and his family and the community are using it to hold these officers accountable. Since their push, the officers had been placed on administrative leave and then fired. However, 46% of the officers fired in Minneapolis have been reinstated. When protesters moved to push for accountability and justice, they were met by violence by the same police force that killed George Floyd.

Tony McDade, a Black transgender man was murdered by law enforcement in Tallahassee, FL on May 27, 2020. The few media outlets that have covered the story have misgendered him and many details still remain unknown. Prior to his killing, Tony was attacked and assaulted by 5 people motivated by transphobia and anti-Black sentiments. No one has been held accountable for his murder.

These are not all the lives taken by the police. There are hundreds more. We now face the harsh reality that 1 in 1,000 Black men and boys can expect to die at the hands of law enforcement. We are living in a country that was founded on the genocide of the Indigenous people of this land and on chattel slavery. Our reality shows us white supremacy is protected and allowed to flourish: where a white woman in Central Park feels entitled to call police officers and lie about a Black man “threatening my life”...where a Latina woman in Florida murders her autistic son and then makes up a lie blaming Black men for the murder.

SEIRN believes that it is our duty to name this history and reality and to address the root causes of the systemic injustices and brutality against Black individuals and communities. We stand with Black leaders, Black communities, and Black families in their call for accountability, transparency, and justice. We uplift and support the demands made by the Movement for Black Lives to defund the police and invest in social services and education for our communities. And as we fight in solidarity for collective liberation, we recognize our responsibility and renew our commitment to open up spaces to have the difficult and uncomfortable conversations about how those of us who are non-Black immigrants help perpetuate white supremacy, anti-blackness, racism, and colorism.

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