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Fellow Arlington Young Democrats-
Originally, I was going to use this time to talk about issues related to the climate crisis since it’s the day after Earth Day, and we have many events this month dealing with environmental justice. It is important, however, to note that the devastating effects of climate change will disproportionately affect communities of color around the world. You can read more about that here [[link removed]] .
However, I would like to take this time to discuss an issue that has been at the forefront of many people’s minds: the ever-growing number of murders and life-threatening injuries inflicted by police in this country.
After a year of demonstrations and pleas from the public, George Floyd’s murderer was finally convicted of what we already know to be true because we saw it on a video. However, it shouldn’t take massive amounts of public protests and an actual video recording for that judgment to be handed down. The justice system should work for all people equitably.
Although Floyd’s murderer was convicted, that does not mean the fight is over. There are thousands of others who have been lost to the same police violence that was on trial and the majority of them did not have the same result. We should not turn a blind eye to the police brutality that has occurred while this trial was happening.
Just this week, a 32-year-old Black man, Isaiah Brown, was shot ten times by a sheriff’s deputy after the deputy gave him a ride home, left, and then was called back to the man’s home for help [[link removed]] .
Daunte Wright was murdered by a veteran police officer who allegedly “mistook her gun for a taser” [[link removed]] in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, just a few minutes away from where George Floyd was murdered.
Earlier this week, a 16 year-old Black girl, Ma’Khia Bryant, was shot and killed by police in Columbus, OH after she called the police for help. [[link removed]]
A 13-year-old Latino Boy, Adam Toledo, was shot and killed by Chicago Police while having his hands in the air. [[link removed]]
Ma’Khia Bryant and Adam Toledo were children. And they were still deemed a threat to police.
What hurts the most is that I know that I won’t be able to convey the true number of people that have been victims of police brutality because of a system that has historically thwarted accountability.
While accountability was served to the murderer of George Floyd, it’s our job to ensure there aren’t anymore George Floyds, Daunte Wrights, Ma’Khia Bryants, or Adam Toledos. There should not be one more Marcus-David Peters, Eric Garner, Rayshard Brooks, Breonna Taylor, Aura Rosser, Stephon Clark, Botham Jean, Philando Castille, Alton Sterling, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Janish Fonville, Michelle Cusseaux, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Gabriella Nevarez or Tanisha Anderson and if you don’t know any of those names, you better start learning them because these are only a few of many who have been killed by police.
And for those who question their innocence, let me say this again: police are not supposed to kill guilty people either.
So let me pose a question to you, how is it a just system when one person can be judge, jury, and executioner in one split second decision? It’s time to change and move away from carceral systems that commit murder. One more life is one too many. It's time for true justice to be served for everyone.
While everyone is relieved by the judgment handed down this week, don’t confuse accountability with resolution. Breathe a sigh of relief, yes, but our systemic problems and violent outcomes are far from over. Becoming complacent will just lead us back here in another year from now.
We have to make the move to decarceral systems. Focusing on investing in communities that desperately need it will ultimately lead to a more just and equitable society. The best thing we can do for these communities is invest in healthcare, education, housing, community centers, social services, workforce development, and other systems that will actively decrease confrontations with police by decreasing the motives for behavior that would lead to incarceration.
There is a common misconception that people commit illegal activity because they are evil, depraved individuals who want to inflict pain on others. This is the furthest thing from the truth in 99% of cases. The majority of the time, these acts are committed out of desperation because our society has given these people no other option than to turn to this. If everyone is able to gain the same services as everyone else, we would see much less need for policing at all.
There is no one perfect answer to this issue. However, we cannot afford to continue to approach this by throwing more money at the problem. More police will not equal less killings, we’ve seen that that is not true. Divesting from law enforcement and investing in communities is the decarceral approach to decreasing the number of police killings that happen every year. We have attempted to reform our justice system to no avail. We must instead transform our justice system in order to achieve true justice for all.
I hope that our Virginia General Assembly will reintroduce the bill to repeal Qualified Immunity [[link removed]] , a bill that would allow us to hold law enforcement accountable for these heinous acts of violence.
I hope that we are able to pass the George Floyd Justice in policing act through Congress.
I hope that one day we won’t have to yell and scream at the top of our voices that Black Lives Matter for others to believe it.
We understand that for some of our members, these events are much more difficult to process. So please make sure to take some time to take care of your mental, physical, and emotional health.
However, for those of us who have the capacity: Be involved. Be intentional. Be proactive.
Stay well and stay safe,
President, Arlington Young Democrats
Alternate text [[link removed]]Matt Royer
AYD President [email protected]
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Arlington Young Democrats
Arlington Young Dems
1235 S Clark St
Arlington, VA 22202
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