The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting every aspect of our society and exposing deep, systemic inequalities that are killing Black people. As the news changes minute-to-minute, BET and Color Of Change are teaming up to make sure Black people have the clear and focused information we need to get help, take action and support the hardest hit in our communities.
Black people aren’t just vulnerable during the pandemic, we’re being targeted, neglected and underserved. As states reopen, we’re seeing Black lives threatened in new ways and old.
Police arrested Dr. Armen Henderson, a Black doctor in Miami, on his way to help the homeless, because he wore a mask while loading supplies into a van outside of his home. In New York City, more than 80 percent of those issued summonses or arrested for social distancing violations have disproportionately been Black and Latino people. Then there’s Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old Black man who went jogging near his neighborhood in Brunswick, GA when he was racially profiled, chased down, shot, and killed by Gregory and Travis McMichael. The locally elected prosecutors, District Attorneys Jackie Johnson and George Barnhill, chose to let these white vigilantes off the hook for killing Ahmaud until enough of us came together and demanded justice.
By now, it should go without saying that Black lives matter. So, this week in the Black Response, we’re addressing ways we can protect and demand justice for the lives of all Black people during the Coronavirus pandemic and even after.
At Color of Change, we’re focusing on ways to demand justice now while building long-lasting progress for the future. Local prosecutors are the most powerful people in the criminal justice system and in Georgia they have regularly failed to protect or bring due process for Black people.We’re calling on the State Bar of Georgia to intervene, launch an investigation and remove these harmful District Attorneys for this malpractice. You can sign the #JusticeforAhmaud petition or receive regular updates on ways that you can help to ensure there is accountability for the McMichaels' killing of Ahmaud Arbery by texting JUSTICE to 55156.
For months, and well before the case went viral, the Georgia NAACP has been working with Ahmaud’s family to demand an arrest and charges put against for his murders. With budgets being reduced during the pandemic, you can donate to ensure these local organizers have the funds needed to continue their advocacy for the 18 or more months that it will take for this case against the McMichaels to be decided.
We need to focus on flattening the curve, not arresting Black people for existing in public. It is unjust to hand out masks in white communities while arresting Black people for not wearing them, and unnecessarily sending Black people to jail during the pandemic could be a death sentence. Sign the petition demanding NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio to immediately release all data for arrests and summons across New York City and end NYPD racist enforcement of social distancing orders.
Say her name and remember it. Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was in her home in Louisville, KY on March 13th when officers from the Louisville Metro Police Department broke through her door after midnight, fired more than 20 bullets, and killed her while she lay in bed. The police were at the wrong house and they were looking for a suspect that was already in custody. You can help demand justice by tweeting with the hashtag #JusticeForBre and demanding for the three police officers to be fired.
We have the power to demand the protection and justice Black people need to survive COVID-19 and thrive in its aftermath. It starts with you. By offering #TheBlackResponse and recording your COVID-19 story, you can make sure the issues you face locally get national attention.
In a time when our communities are constantly being called “the most vulnerable” Black people are not dying, we are being killed — killed by bad policies, corporate irresponsibility, racial bias, and all those who profit from racism. We can’t’ let the excuse of fear open the door for more criminalization, harassment, and murder of Black people.
The fact that police knew about the murder of Ahmaud Arbery for 72 days, but only took action after Black people saw the film and demanded justice, shows us that our activism is working. Even when we can only come together digitally, we are a powerful force pushing towards progress.
Rashad Robinson is spokesperson for Color Of Change PAC is a Political Action Committee focused on building independent Black political power, amplifying Black voices, electing candidates who share our values, and holding them accountable to our communities. You can find him on Twitter @RashadRobinson.
Courtesy of Color of Change.