The cold-blooded murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer is at once uniquely horrific and painfully familiar. This shocking crime has quickly echoed around the country and around the world — evidence of a human rights abuse by all accepted international standards, and the strange fruit of peculiarly American history of white supremacy and systemic injustice. Click here to support the Floyd family in their time of need.
For New Yorkers, Floyd’s tragic death and his family’s wrenching ordeal bring to mind our own recent history of racial violence and trauma. We remember the suffering of black New Yorkers killed by police, including Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Ramarley Graham, Mohamed Bah, Akai Gurly, Deborah Danner, and of course Eric Garner — whose killer was not fired from his job for five years. Family members are reliving their pain.
George Floyd’s murder shows that true equality before the law still eludes us in the United States. But the worldwide demonstrations for justice that have followed speak to the possibility of a better future — as do the moving moments of solidarity between protesters and police, the overwhelming majority of whom risk their lives every day to protect and serve diverse communities.
How can we move forward together as a city and country?
- We religious and community leaders can bear witness to the suffering of George Floyd and the moral bankruptcy of white supremacy through peaceful protests that respect the dignity and humanity of our neighbors — including NYPD officers — and respect public health concerns in the ongoing pandemic. Click here to support bail for those arrested demonstrating for justice.
- We can call for public access to police disciplinary records.
Today, we can call Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins: 518-455-2585 / 914-423-4031 and Speaker Heastie: 518-455-3791 / 718-654-6539 and ask them to support the Bailey/O’Donnell’s 50-a repeal bill.
- We can ask the NYPD leadership to make space for officers to express their solidarity with protestors, and work actively to recruit even more officers from communities of color.
Back in 2017, the Interfaith Center of New York was part of the Joint Remedial Process ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin in response to lawsuits against the policy of “stop and frisk.” At that time, we stated what is still, unfortunately, true today: “As clergy and other religious leaders who serve in diverse communities of faith around New York City . . . we continue to witness first-hand that needless suffering is created by law enforcement based on racial and religious prejudice and occurs too often in certain neighborhoods inhabited by people whose racial, religious, or health profile make them vulnerable.”
This inequality must end.
NYPD officers kneel in Foley Square, Manhattan.
(New York Post/Peter Gerber)