“To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious, is to be in a rage almost all the time.” James Baldwin
“We revolt simply because, for many reasons, we can no longer breathe” Franz Fanon
We embrace the rage. The knee on George Floyd’s neck symbolizes the historic weight on the neck of the black community for our entire history in this land. It must be lifted, or we all perish. We feel the pain expressed across the nation given our lived experiences of racism, economic disinvestment, failed health care systems, joblessness, disparate impacts of covid-19, and disparate impacts of the criminal justice system. We express our outrage at the blatant racism and act of murder and other violence against Black people by law enforcement. We condemn the federal, state and local officials who, through their silence and inaction, condone these acts of terror against our community. It is time for immediate and substantial action to shift away from the current culture of policing to meaningful, community-based safety and well-being strategies.
Police in Minneapolis murdered George Floyd just for being black and denied him human dignity. The same is true for Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Tony McDade in Tallahassee, and Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia; as well as countless others. Too many of us, no matter our race, gender, or unique identity, struggle everyday with the violence of our society that serves the rich and privileged at the expense of the struggling workers.
The violence generated by the economic, political, social and cultural institutional racism against our community caused the reactions in the streets. We fully support our activist family and friends who are waging a principled demonstration of the pent-up anger we all feel. In the Spirit of John Brown, we applaud the solidarity of antiracist white people in our struggle. We stand with all who fight for change. While we do not seek to promote the violence, looting and other activities that can undermine the message that Black Lives really do Matter, We are committed to the belief that if there is no Justice, there will be no Peace. Our demand is for justice—true justice – justice for George Floyd and all victims of police violence, health and economic justice, educational equity and economic and housing justice. We commit a renewed energy and resources to demand accountability and to the removal of obstacles to change policies, institutions, or change individuals.
To our young people, we understand your distrust of government and law enforcement. We stand with you to change this system of unequal justice. We know that judges represent as much a part of the inequities in the justice system as District Attorneys, City Attorneys, law enforcement and lawyers. Systemic change is required.
As an intergenerational network of men of African descent, we are working hard to bring the world we want to see into being. We have organized a response to the COVID pandemic in Oakland over the last month and created a fund to provide resources to our most vulnerable family members. We have partnered with City officials to support the creation of an effective Department of Violence Prevention.
Lastly, a major tool in this transformation is the Oakland Police Commission which finds itself at a crossroads. We have engaged the debate and won’t give up until this vehicle for accountability is working at its highest level for us. To be successful in their duties, it requires the trust of the Oakland Community; the appropriate number of qualified trained staff; and complete autonomy from Oakland’s elected officials, administration and Police Department. The current debate on making changes to the Commission are critical to their mission of overseeing the policies and practices to meet the national standards of constitutional policing. We are determined to create a humane “use of force” policy and practice for the Oakland Police Department; to eliminate biased policing in the Oakland Police department and the Sheriff’s Department, to strengthen the Citizen Police Review Agency, and elect a District Attorney that prosecutes police violations of citizens’ rights, and elect a sheriff that protects the rights of our community.
Join us in our work. Join us in this fight. Join us in the larger movement for Black lives.
The Brotherhood of Elders Network is an intergenerational network of men of African descent based in Oakland California whose mission is to foster environments where Black males are empowered to flourish.