Washington, D.C., May 29, 2020 - Today, Brady joins Americans across the country in expressing outrage at the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent state-sponsored violence against those seeking accountability in his name. While the officer who was filmed killing George Floyd has now been arrested and charged with murder and manslaughter, Brady reiterates the need to confront the systemic racism that drives police violence and gun violence as a whole, and uplifts activists from the Minneapolis-St. Paul community as they demand tangible police and governance reform. It is too late to find true justice for George Floyd since his life was stolen, but those who murdered him must be brought to account and the structures of power that facilitated his death undone.
Brady President Kris Brown shared:
“George Floyd’s name now joins an ignominious and ever-growing list of Black and Brown Americans murdered by the state. We have seen, recently, the murder of several Black men and women by the police or in extra-judicial killings captivate the media and nation, though we know too that there are many other names that have joined that list in recent days that have received little attention but should have. It is too late to bring them justice, but it is not too late to actively tear down the racist power structures that resulted in their death.
As a white woman, and as the head of a national organization with historically white leadership, Brady and I, along with all white Americans, must be candid in acknowledging our privilege and role in a society founded on white supremacy, and we must be clear in our responsibility to challenge that ideology and align with those working to build a just and equal society. For many white Americans, this realization is an essential first step towards being true friends in solidarity, not merely ‘allies.’ I speak personally when I say I know this is an ongoing process, but it is one that we must commit to with our whole selves if we truly believe in equity and justice. I know that I am not alone in asking ‘what can I do?’ and I am committed to listening to the many people working on the ground to create a more equal society and uplifting their work, needs and voices. There have been many resources circulating on how white Americans can engage and be actively anti-racist, including this list from Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein. These are all vital self-education tools, which I will continue to digest in the days to come as we continue to confront the need for immediate change in our society.”
Black and Brown Americans face gun violence and police violence at disproportionately high rates. While Black Americans are only 13 percent of the U.S. population, they are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white Americans and constitute 31 percent of all police-involved fatalities. This reality and the fact that Black Americans face disproportionate rates of gun violence result from the same racist policies and structures that drive inequality and disparity for minority communities across numerous outcomes. To speak to police violence requires acknowledging systemic racism in our country. To seek to end police violence requires addressing systemic racism. They are inseparable.
Brady Constitutional Litigation Counsel Kelly Sampson shared:
“George Floyd’s murder and the ensuing outcry for justice amplifies a centuries-old issue in America — that systemic racism necessarily devalues Black people’s lives. We can only rightly understand what happened to George Floyd, what is happening in cities all over the country, and what will or will not happen to the officers involved in this case, if we understand the context. Black Americans are facing higher rates of police violence, COVID-19 deaths, and gun violence in 2020 because the country has never truly addressed the systemic racism set in motion in 1619. George Floyd lived in a country that did not recognize, value, or protect his life. To honor him and to prevent further violence — whether it results directly from state commission, as we see with police violence, or indirectly from state omission, as we see with the so-called ‘daily violence’ that plagues Black and Brown neighborhoods suffering from decades of disinvestment, discrimination, segregation, and lax gun policy — we join with community activists in Minnesota in calling for real change to reduce inequality.
Since systemic racism did not start with the four officers involved, these calls for justice will not stop, even if all those officers responsible for this murder are arrested; they won’t end when an inquiry is called into the Minneapolis police force’s tactics during this period of unrest; nor will they end when the local government has committed to working with affected communities to create new paths forward and rebuild trust; they can only end when all Americans are committed to unmaking racist systems that continue to kill Black and Brown people.”
Though a gun was not used to murder George Floyd, it is vital to recognize that police violence is inextricably linked to gun violence. Police violence is gun violence. The militarization of police forces across the country and the imbalance of power created by armed officers and vulnerable citizens demands attention from policy makers and gun violence prevention activists alike. That imbalance of power too often and too clearly threatens and oppresses Black and Brown people across the country. Systemic racism and white supremacy, when combined with militaristic policing, is pestilential, and it is killing our people. We have seen in just the past few months numerous high-profile cases where this policing has resulted in the death of Black and Brown Americans.
We have also seen vastly different responses to these events unfold in the inflammatory tweets put out by President Trump last night — where he called protestors ‘thugs’ and threatened his own citizens with gun violence — in contrast to his praise of a mob of largely white protestors who stormed the Michigan capitol fully armed for battle. He called those people “very good people.” The contrast he intends to draw is clear. This violence, racism, and facile leadership stands in contrast to the many national voices that have spoken clearly about the racist systems that facilitated George Floyd’s murder. That is of course in stark contrast to former Vice President Biden today, where he called for an end to “complacency” and for a “hard look” at “uncomfortable truths.” What he understands in his statement is that systemic racism is itself a violent life denying structure and it is never a surprise when the reaction to such violent structures is violence. We want to stop the violence at its root. To do that, we must take a comprehensive approach across Congress, courts, and communities — recognizing that for these issues to change major structural reforms are necessary.
The election in November is an opportunity to vote out a President who engages in divisive rhetoric and inflames racial tension. To be clear, a single election alone will not solve this. All of us must commit to reforming the racists systems built over the hundreds of years in our own lives, homes, communities, places of worship, work, states and nation. Brady joins with many around the country in expressing outrage at the events of the past week, demanding justice in Minnesota, and dedicates itself to renewed action and attention to the need to combat racism and actively dismantle racist power structures.
Police violence is inextricably linked to gun violence.— Brady | United Against Gun Violence (@bradybuzz) May 29, 2020
The militarization of police and the imbalance of power created by armed officers cannot continue to threaten, oppress, and kill Black people.
The gun violence prevention movement cannot remain silent on this. #GeorgeFloyd https://t.co/yarLS4qjqq
Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.