Statement of Solidarity With All People Struggling Against Police Brutality and State Violence
Last week a police officer brutally murdered George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, while other officers and witnesses looked on. This came upon the heels of the murder of Breonna Taylor, an emergency medical technician serving on the front lines of the COVID crisis, by police who broke into her home with a battering ram. It happened soon after the white vigilante shooting of Ahmaud Arbery as he was simply trying to stay healthy and just days after a white woman called police on a nature lover and birdwatcher, who was also a Black man. Since then, even more people like Tony McDade a Black transgender person have been murdered by the police.
All of this violence took place during a massive public health crisis and escalation of economic misery across the country. The recent protests in response to this violence serve as an important reminder that people and organizations benefiting from white privilege still have lots of work to do in dismantling systemic racism.
Violence has been systematic and ongoing for hundreds of years. Police forces in the US have been weaponizing anti-Black racism since their beginning, which is rooted in 18th and 19th century slave catching forces. Throughout this unrest, it is clear that the police are not promoting peace. They are using tear gas (a chemical weapon banned in warfare by international treaty), rubber bullets, and other forms of brutality.
Discrimination and Food Insecurity
Through our research [PDF], we know these abuses of power and discrimination by police are associated with increased rates of household food insecurity and child hunger. In Philadelphia, if a person experiences racial or ethnic discrimination by police, courts or in the streets, they are far more likely to report child hunger and household food insecurity.
We at the Center for Hunger-Free Communities want to express our solidarity, love, and care for the families affected by, and for all of the people who are taking the time to put their lives at risk in protest of violence against Black, Indigenous, and other people of color across the country. Our team has committed to keeping anti-racism efforts central to our work in research, programming and advocacy and in ourselves. We continue to educate ourselves through personal and group education on the various forms of oppression.
Call for Action
Along with national organizations such as Black Lives Matter and local organizations in Philadelphia seeking a fair budget that benefits people instead of corporations and police, we call on officials to:
- Immediately stop sending more resources and military weapons to the police - for the safety of our communities
- Swiftly bring the perpetrators of these violent acts to trial
- Commit more money to the social, economic, and public health programs (instead of police) that can help Black people and people of color flourish
What Can We Do?
We invite everyone who cares about hunger and poverty in America to speak out against police brutality, racism, and sexism and to actively support the work of our sisters and brothers in the struggle for equality, justice, and freedom. In addition to joining active protests, we urge you to:
- Demand that local and national funding supports public health and social services, not additional policing
Proposed funding cuts as a result of COVID-19 in public health, social services, libraries, parks, and the arts are coming in many areas, but at the same time budgets for police continue to increase. Contact your elected officials to demand funding be moved away from policing to funds for much needed public health and social services that prevent crime.
- Continue to contact your elected officials
Ongoing dialogue with and expectations for elected officials is essential to make necessary change. Know who your representatives are locally and at the state and national level and continue to reach out on topics of racism and injustice.
- Join together with organizations doing the work
Get more involved with national and local initiatives to make change. Sign up to receive more information from, donate to, and/or attend events hosted by one of these organizations, that are just a small portion of those doing this important work:
It may get lost in the unrest of recent events, but the Pennsylvania primary is scheduled for June 2 and New Jersey primary is scheduled for July 7. Commit to voting in the safest way you know how in every election. It is your right, and those elected officials carry significant power in policy change.
- Be aware of the emotions and trauma you are experiencing and engage in reflection and self-care
The incidents of the past few weeks have been traumatic for all of our communities. Taking care of ourselves in this time is so important. See our resources on trauma and healing and continue to reflect on the emotions you are feeling at this time.
- Continue to educate yourself on racism and oppression
Utilize our anti-oppression resource page to find videos, articles, books, and more to inform yourself of the issues surrounding recent events and the history of racism in America.
While these actions can help people today, we also must look to more meaningful and sustainable policy change that can begin to repair the suffering and help end poverty and oppression in the future:
- Reparations for slavery, housing discrimination, and police brutality
- Repatriation of lands to Indigenous people and support of treaty rights
- Abolition of prisons and full-scale reform of the justice system
- Reduction of funding for and demilitarization of the police
- Implementation of universal basic income (see our publication from members of Witnesses to Hunger)
- Development of universal health care and universal childcare
Again, thank you for your support and care over the years for taking action to reach our mutual goal of ending child hunger and household food insecurity. We hope that today’s crises are driving everyone to take deeper and more meaningful action today and the years to come.
Photo by Johnny Silvercloud