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Taking Action in Solidarity with Black Lives


On April 20, Derek Chauvin was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd. We hope George Floyd's memory continues to inspire activism and change though we know today was not the finish line but just one piece in our fight against white supremacy and a broken justice system. But one verdict cannot dismantle structural racism, and the flaws in this country run deep. George Floyd should be here today. Adam Toledo should be here today. Breonna Taylor should be here today. No verdict, even this guilty verdict, will bring them back. We must continue to take action in solidarity with Black lives and intervene at all levels of government: local, state, and federal. We will continue to update this resource with actions as they appear. 

On May 25, George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was murdered by Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer. Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for seven minutes, suffocating him as Floyd pleaded repeatedly that he couldn’t breathe. Videos of the murder went viral with many noting the devastating similarities between Floyd’s killing and that of Eric Garner in 2014. In response, Minneapolitans took to the streets to protest both Floyd’s death and the long legacy of anti-Black racism and police violence in the city and in our nation. 

The weeks and months that followed can only be described as a nationwide uprising. Protestors took to the streets across the country despite police using extreme force and brutality to try to “dominate the streets” with increasing repression and brutality. Protestors have been tear-gassed, shot with rubber bullets, and met with disproportionate use of force. While protests in major cities like New York and Los Angeles dominated news cycles, people took action in the suburbs and rural areas to show solidarity and demand change to anti-Black racism and injustice in their own communities. 
Sadly, we know the battle is far from over as Black people continue to be harassed, violated, and murdered by police. On August 23, Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin as his children sat in the backseat. Thankfully, Jacob survived the encounter, but his attempted murder reignited the national conversation on white supremacy, police brutality, and the need for change. On August 25, at a Kenosha protest to demand justice for Jacob, two protestors were killed by a white vigilante as police stood by. Over and over, we are reminded that the police cannot keep us safe. 

It is not enough to discuss a need for bias trainings or an increase in body cameras -- we must demand transformative change. Following the lead of Black-led organizations like the Movement 4 Black Lives, we believe it is critical to defund the police and reinvest in community services that keep everyone safe. Keep reading for information on how we got here, what it means to defund the police, and action steps you can take now to take action in solidarity with Black lives.

How did we get to this moment?

George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Tony McDade. Ahmaud Arbery. These are just four of the Black lives we’ve lost to white supremacy and police brutality in 2020. While their deaths are horrific, they’re unfortunately not unique. America’s police and criminal justice systems are the legacies of our country’s white supremacist, slave-owning history. Structural racism permeates every facet of American life and is perhaps most evident in the way that law enforcement interacts with communities of color. All across the country, Black people are more likely to be harassed, arrested, and killed by police than their white counterparts. 

We have a national crisis of white supremacist violence against Black people in this country. In the past 10 years alone, we witnessed the deaths of thousands of Black people at the hands of police. Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, and Philando Castile are just some of the names of those we’ve lost to racialized police violence. And the COVID-19 pandemic has only created more opportunities for police to question and detain Black people. In New York City, for example, from March 16 to May 5, over half of the summonses issued related to social distancing enforcement were issued to Black residents even though they make up only a quarter of the city’s residents.

The violence against Black people by the police is systemic. This is not a question of good vs. bad cops -- it is an indictment of the entire institution. We only have to look at the cases of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor for evidence. Even with nationwide attention, video evidence, and daily protests, it is more than likely the police who committed these murders will never be held accountable. In another case, Ahmaud Arbery was murdered by two white vigilantes while he was on a run in south Georgia. Local police initially covered up the murder, claiming Ahmaud was involved in a burglary, and let Ahmaud’s killers go free. From the initial encounters between police and Black folks to seeking justice within the system, the police do not keep us safe. 

One of the key ways to limit police violence in the future is by decreasing funding for police forces and carceral institutions, and investing that money in programs, especially in Black communities, that support people’s well-being—things like schools, nutrition assistance, addiction treatment, social workers, and more. We must follow the lead of the Movement for Black Lives by calling to defund police forces and invest in communities; you can make a call to your local officials using our script here.

What does it mean to defund the police?

Still today, in many communities, the police do not keep people safe. The murder of George Floyd sparked conversations all over the country. Even in the neighboring state of Wisconsin, where Milwaukee’s Police Chief spoke about the need to have a conversation over the wide-range of health and social responsibilities police are forced to take on and are often not qualified to do. In the recent shooting of Jacob Blake, in the same state MPD Chief spoke about, Jacob was intervening in a domestic fight to try to prevent police intervention when police shot him. The police response system in place is not set up to de-escalate domestic problems or protect those involved, particularly when they happen in Black and brown neighborhoods.

That was true well before the police murders that sparked the latest protests; policies like stop and frisk or “broken windows” policing demonstrate that in Black and brown communities, the role of the police is to surveil, threaten, and detain people in massive numbers, frequently without any cause or justification. This, in turn, means that members of these communities often feel they can’t call the police because they know that doing so could make the situation worse or even put their lives at risk. We need to step back from this broken model of “protection,” and reinvest in a shared vision of community safety, infrastructure, and recovery that does not rely on the police.

Police departments have massive budgets—often 30% or more of all the city’s spending in a given year—funds which are often used to criminalize unhoused people, respond to mental health crises and over police communities of color. That’s why local activists have been calling on their city officials for years to cut spending on police and invest that money instead into programs that serve the community’s needs, like housing assistance, clean water, mental health services, and more. Spending that much money on police, and increasing the amount that is spent every year, takes money out of priorities that can actually help keep people safer.

Take Washington, DC for example. According to the Washington City Paper, the city spent more on police and corrections in 2019 than it did on programs for jobs, young people, and mental health combined. Yet in this year’s budget, Mayor Muriel Bowser is proposing increasing the police budget and funding the construction of a new jail while cutting funding for the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, which provides violence intervention resources for communities. And this is despite the fact that there are clear problems with the DC police’s ongoing racist enforcement efforts, which began long before the recent protests.

All of this is on top of the centuries of violent and racist policies, like redlining, school closures, and over policing, that have extracted wealth from Black communities for the benefit of white communities. The police can’t solve problems that are rooted in social and economic injustice; only actively repairing the harms of those choices by investing in Black people and communities can do that.

There is a clear need to rebalance power between the police and the communities they are supposed to protect. We shouldn’t be handing out unlimited funding to local police departments that have proven over and over again that they are going to use that money to inflict violence on Black communities. Instead, we should call on our city leaders to cut funding for police departments, and use that money to invest in meeting Black and brown community’s needs. That means taking money out of police budgets to make sure people have well-funded schools, good living-wage jobs, affordable housing, and more.

Cities like Los Angeles and Minneappolis are already setting the course for what the steps look like to defund the police and reallocate funds into the community. The Minneapolis Public School System cancelled a long-standing contract and severed ties with the local police department—which will remove resource police officers from school campuses. Local Black Lives Matter and other activist groups called for a massive budget cut on the Los Angeles Police department earlier this year, with the recent protests and additional pressure on the Mayor a planned budget increase has been replaced with a $150 million cut to the budget. 

In response to the murder of George Floyd and subsequent protests, a veto-proof majority of the Minneapolis City Council committed to dismantling the Minneapolis Police Department. This is a response won by the tireless efforts of racial justice advocates in the Minneapolis community and is the transformative racial justice policies Indivisible supports.

The idea of defunding the police might feel drastic at first. But the concept is simple—when we invest in community service programs we can reduce the need for police to respond to situations where their jobs aren’t applicable. This isn’t taboo like some GOP members would have you think. In fact a 2017 national poll, found that “more than 75 percent of voters supported shifting funding from incarceration to community-based solutions.”  Lastly, the safest communities in America are places that don’t center the police, like wealthy predominantly white communities where people have easy access to wages, health care, good education, and freedom from police terror. The goal of this moment must be fighting for a new vision of what public safety looks like for Black communities who have never felt safe in this country. It’s important that our efforts meet the magnitude of that goal.

Donate to Black-led organizations

At Indivisible, we believe Black Lives Matter without qualifications, asterisks, or caveats. We also believe in the right for communities to protest and protect themselves against state-sanctioned violence. To support Black activists fighting for justice, we recommend donating and supporting these local organizations, we’ve set up an ActBlue page where you can split a donation between leading local and national Black-led organizations.

What you can do right now to help

We encourage Indivisibles (and everyone) to pursue their own anti-racist education. Here are a few resources we found helpful:

A note for social media: You’ll notice we didn’t link to video of any of these horrific incidents. That’s on purpose. Out of respect for those affected by these acts of violence, we urge readers not to continue sharing these traumatic videos and instead focus on lifting up the right voices, taking the right actions, and supporting the right organizations. 

What can Congress and candidates do?

We need transformative change in our country—and there’s no silver bullet. But here are a few things that elected officials and candidates can do right now:

  • Join us in the No Cash From Cops campaign, led by Color of Change, in asking your local, state, and federal officials to donate any police union campaign donations that they have received to bail funds and mutual aid organizations and to publicly commit to rejecting these funds in the future. Call, email, and tweet at them.
    • Script: I am writing to you/calling as a concerned constituent who stands against police brutality and white supremacy. I am urging you to stand on the right side of history: refuse to take any political donations from police unions or sheriff associations and donate any contributions you have taken in the last year to Black-led community-strengthening initiatives. The continued violence against Black, brown, and Native communities at the hands of ‘law enforcement’ is disgraceful. Police unions are in the business of defending the most consistent murderers and abusers of the Black community, creating obstructions to justice for the families and loved ones. Stand with your community today.

Protest Safety

In light of everything that is happening right now, we know that some of you are anxious to show up in the best way that you can. In some instances, that might mean attending a local protest. With all of the safety concerns—from exposure to coronavirus to the possible eruption of violence, this is a very personal decision. One that we are not advocating for one way or another. However, we do want to make sure that if you do decide to venture out to stand with your fellow siblings, that you stay as safe as possible. With that said, we thought it would be beneficial to provide a few safety tips: 

The Anti-Police Terror Project has identified best practices for safety if you choose to attend in-person protests or events. Know the risks and do what you can to minimize the risk for you and those around you.

  1. If you’re feeling under the weather, you should reconsider attending the event for the safety of both yourself and others. 
  2. Wear a mask. And try to wear the most effective one that you have access to - if there ever was a time to wear a mask with a filter, this is it. Here’s a resource about the best types of homemade masks. 
  3. Bring extra masks and hand sanitizer for others at the protest that don’t have them.
  4. Maintain 6 feet of social distancing at all times
  5. Attend with a protest buddy. Stay together and have the National Lawyers Guild Legal Hotline 415.285.1011 written on your arm in case you are arrested. Let your buddy know who to contact if you are.
  6. Be aware of the health implications of being arrested, both for you and your community.
  7. If you are Black or Brown and are arrested, please let the National Lawyers Guild know when you call. The Anti Police-Terror Project has bail funds and will work through the night to get you home. 
  8. In some areas, breaking the Shelter In Place (SIP) order has serious legal implications—it can result in a misdemeanor, punishable by jail time or a large fine—in some cases $600 to $1000—that is selectively enforced. Know this and be aware of the consequences of being in the streets if you see cops writing tickets or closing in on you.
  9. If you are exposed to tear gas or mace, do NOT use water. That will likely only prolong the effects. 
  10. Follow your instincts and follow instructions. Keep yourself out of harm's way - if you see violence erupting, or feel uncomfortable, remove yourself from the area or situation immediately. And if police give orders, do your best to respectfully obey. 

We know that these are upsetting times and that we all want to be able to stand up and do something. This is not the world we want, this is not the world we’re working for. We’ll have more resources coming shortly about actions you can take from home, soon. Until then, please stay safe.