Race Forward Urges Systemic Change in Light of Police Killing of Tyre Nichols; Continued Police Violence Against People of Color

For Immediate Release

Jan. 26, 2023

Contact: [email protected]

NEW YORK — Race Forward today decried the killing of Tyre Nichols at the hands of five Memphis Police Department officers. The organization released the following statement:

“Our hearts break for the family of Tyre Nichols. No family should have to bury a loved one due to reckless and inhumane treatment from those sworn to protect and serve,” said Glenn Harris, President of Race Forward. “ We send condolences to Nichols’ family, and we simultaneously continue to call for police accountability and systemic changes to policing, particularly in communities of color.”

“Race Forward works to dismantle systems of inequity because we know racism is structured not only through skin color and ethnicity, but also through systems and structures of power,” added Charlene Sinclair, Chief of Staff at Race Forward. “In this country, racist power within policing allows those in these systems to make life-and-death decisions. These systems create environments of terror, violence, and oppression against Black people and people of color. When trauma and tragedy such as the killing of Tyre Nichols occurs, we must not only challenge person-to-person racism, but also the racism that is embedded within structures and systems.

“The immediate firing of the officers involved in Tyre Nichols death is not historically what we’ve seen. Typically, the officers are put on administrative leave, and later absolved. And while there must be individual accountability, this is bigger than the termination of individual officers. We must also demand change of the systems that permit the continued killings of Black people and people of color so there can be different outcomes.

“We not only want justice in this individual case, but we want to see a world where oppressive systems are eliminated and where the health and dignity of all people of color is upheld and prioritized. To ensure freedom for communities of color, we demand accountability and a completely transformed system.”

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Founded in 1981, Race Forward brings systemic analysis and an innovative approach to complex race issues to help people take effective action toward racial equity. Race Forward is home to the Government Alliance on Race and Equity, a national network of local governments working to achieve racial equity and advance opportunities for all. Race Forward publishes Colorlines and presents Facing Race, the country’s largest multiracial conference on racial justice.

Race Forward Decries SCOTUS Overturn of Roe v. Wade; Decision Will Adversely Affect Women of Color and Members of the LBGTQ+ Communities

Contact: Cheryl Cato Blakemore
[email protected]

This is an unbelievably sad day for women’s rights, reproductive justice, racial justice, and our movement for a just, multiracial democracy. Today’s Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is an affront on democracy and equity in this country. As we have seen throughout history, eliminating woman’s constitutional right to make decisions about her own body will adversely impact women of color and members of the LBGTQ+ community, who disproportionately experience discrimination and access limitations to healthcare services and resources.  

The removal of this precedent of nearly half a century provides states the right to decide their abortion laws, and 26 states are poised to implement bans on all or nearly all abortions. We know this won’t end abortions; it will only end access to safe, affordable abortions. In addition, any states are also poised to criminalize both those receiving and those providing abortions, regardless of the circumstance. The additional mental toll this will take on women and their families is unfathomable. 

Now is the time to lean into our collective power and move into action. With the power to abolish abortion rights now at the state level, we must work with state legislators to ensure they make the right decisions to empower women to make their own decision about what is best for themselves and their families. And if they refuse to hear our voices, let’s make them hear our votes!

Race Forward Condemns Racist and Politicized Violence of Buffalo Massacre

Race Forward mourns with the families and community of the ten people who were killed this past Saturday at a TOPS grocery store in Buffalo, NY, by an 18-year-old white supremacist. The gunman has said his intention was “to kill as many black people as possible,” citing “replacement theory” as his motive while live-streaming the entire act. 

This carefully planned, premeditated attack was an act of racist and political violence, unmistakably rooted in white nationalist, authoritarian ideologies. At this moment, it is critical we honor the lives of those killed, the people of Buffalo, and marginalized communities across this country by strengthening our work to dismantle systemic racism in all places where it exists within our culture and institutions. We must not allow those in power to exploit this moment by bloating budgets for policing and militaristic counterterrorism units. This act must be seen for what it is, a rise in white nationalism’s radicalization to maintain the structures of power that promote inequity.

The toll of this growing white nationalism remains an urgent matter—one we cannot afford to ignore as it has led to an incalculable loss of Black lives. 

We honor and recognize the lives of those lost by lifting up their names:

  • Roberta A. Drury 
  • Margus D. Morrison 
  • Andre Mackneil 
  • Aaron Salter  
  • Geraldine Talley 
  • Celestine Chaney 
  • Heyward Patterson 
  • Katherine Massey 
  • Pearl Young
  • Ruth Whitfield 

It is in their memory and the memory of all the others who have lost their lives as a result of racist and politicized violence, Race Forward remains committed to working towards dismantling the systems and structures that incessantly enable white supremacy. We strongly advocate community-based solutions to build alternatives to all forms of militarization and criminalization that oppress and kill Black people.

Only then can we create a truly safe society in which all of us can thrive with dignity, power, and purpose.

 

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Three Men Responsible for Ahmaud Arbery’s Murder Found Guilty; Race Forward Continues to Call for Transformed Justice System and Accountability

For Immediate Release
November 24, 2021

Contact: Maya Boddie
[email protected]

 

Today, almost two years following the slaying of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery while he was jogging in his Brunswick, Georgia neighborhood, the three white men responsible for fatally shooting Arbery have been found guilty of murder. 

After close to 11 hours of deliberation, the jury returned their verdict finding Gregorgy McMichael guilty on eight counts, his son Travis McMichael guilty on all nine counts, and neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. guilty on six counts.

While we are pleased with the outcome of this trial, we know that there is much more work to be done to transform a justice system originally designed to work against Black and brown people. We also know true accountability will not be realized unless their sentencing, for which a date has not yet been announced, fits the measure of their crimes.

Race Forward continues to work towards a just democracy where the rights and lives of Black people are protected and respected and those who violate these rights are held accountable.

 

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Kyle Rittenhouse Found Not Guilty, Race Forward Continues to Call for a Transformed Justice System

After three and a half days of jury deliberation, Kyle Rittenhouse has been acquitted of all five charges in the murder of two unarmed men and the shooting injury of a third during a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin last year.

Following the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man--who was left paralyzed from the waist down, by a white police officer, protest ensued in Kenosha, where Rittenhouse, 17-years-old at the time, brandished a AR-15-style rifle and fatally shot Anthony Huber, 26, and 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum.

Stark and well documented disparities in our criminal justice system indicate that the outcome of the trial would very likely look different had Rittenhouse been a Black man.

Further aggravating the repeated pattern of racial disparities where courts treat white men on trial, such as Dylan Roof, more leniently, Judge Schroeder insisted on biased language in the courtroom by refusing to allow those who were killed to be called “victims,” but allowing them to be called “rioters'' and “looters”. Judge Schroeder demonstrated the importance of language, and misused his authority to undermine accountability for these brutal killings. 

The verdict comes in the midst of the trial of another white male who murdered Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and eight years after George Zimmerman, in the guise of a vigilante, was acquitted of the murder of Travon Martin, another young black man. The intersection of this resurgence of white extremist political violence and white supremacy, and the ensuing lack of accountability, represent a pattern that strains and damages the legitimacy of our institutions. This pattern threatens our democracy, while allowing the murders of Black and brown people and their allies. It further proves that the current justice system is far from just, and is designed to work against Black and brown people time and time again. 

Race Forward continues to call for accountability and a completely transformed justice system that  moves us towards a true democracy that ensures the rights and lives of all people are respected.

 

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Civil Rights and Racial Justice Organizations Denounce Inhumane Treatment of Haitians at U.S. Border

September 24, 2021 

CONTACT: Elana Needle
[email protected]                                                                     

The foremost multi-racial coalition of racial equity organizations in the nation condemns the brutal and inhumane treatment of Haitian migrants at the border. The searing image of Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents snapping their whips from above while their horses charged at vulnerable Haitian immigrants seeking refuge transported us back to America’s dark past of slave patrols and history of oppressive practices against Black people. As civil rights and social justice organizations, we condemn this treatment and urge respect for human rights.

This treatment is simply unacceptable and violates any standard of civil and human rights and liberty. We demand the Administration:

  • Heed the recommendations by Black civil rights and racial justice leaders in this letter sent to your administration on September 21, 2021,
  • Terminate the CBP agents in question,
  • Cease and desist deportation flights,
  • Grant Enhanced TPS for Haitians, and;
  • Replace egregious CBP practices with a humanitarian approach that prioritizes the well-being and dignity of all.

These actions do not represent the America we strive to be, but tragically, they do represent part of the America we are today. And we need to do better.

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The Racial Equity Anchor Collaborative includes the following leading national organizations (the Anchors): Advancement Project National Office, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, Demos, Faith in Action, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Congress of American Indians, National Urban League, Race Forward, and UnidosUS. Supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, we work together to promote racial equity, advance racial healing, and ensure that all children, families, and communities have opportunities to reach their full potential. 

 

Race Forward Signs on to Letter Re: Urgent Need for Ensuring Safe Passage for US Citizens and Afghan Allies Out of Afghanistan

August 27, 2021

 

Re: Urgent Need for Ensuring Safe Passage for US Citizens and Afghan Allies Out of Afghanistan

Dear President Biden, Vice President Harris, Secretary Blinken, and Secretary Mayorkas:

On August 24th, we heard President Biden’s renewed commitment to removing all United States troops from Afghanistan by August 31, 2021. While the circumstances given the recent Taliban takeover are tenuous at best, immediate and swift action on the part of the United States’ is necessary to save tens of thousands of lives. The situation at Kabul airport is rapidly deteriorating with recent bombings at the gates and surrounding areas, the Taliban having reportedly blocked road access to the airport, while those who have made it to the airport are living in dire conditions without food, water, toilets and increased risk of exposure to COVID-19. Beyond Kabul, thousands of at-risk allies, women, ethnic minorities, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community have been left stranded without access to evacuation routes and are subject to a collapsed economy, a crippling third wave of COVID-19, and the very real threat of Taliban retaliation and execution.

As President Biden stated on August 24, 2021, “our obligations” are to safely evacuate all American citizens and Afghan allies. We, the undersigned organizations, insist that the United States honor that statement by:

  • Extending the deadline until the safe evacuation and resettlement of all at-risk Afghan vulnerable populations is complete;
  • Creating robust and welcoming plans to ensure absorption of Afghan refugees on American soil;
  • Working with the international community to ensure safe resettlement for Afghan refugees, rather than creating another large community of international refugees. This includes not forcing those with US visas to languish in a country for long periods between escaping Afghanistan and immigrating to the United States; and
  • Defending gender and human rights within Afghanistan during the transition and after.

Sincerely,

Asian Pacific Islander American Health forum, Faith In Action, National Urban League, Race Forward and UnidosUS

Cc:
Ron Klain, White House Chief of Staff 
Ambassador Susan Rice, Director of the Domestic Policy Council 
Jake Sullivan, U.S. National Security Advisor

Race Forward Joins with Civil Rights Organizations to Request Congress Enact Legislation for A Path to Citizenship for DACA and TPS Recipients

Dear Majority Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi,

We, the undersigned civil rights and social justice organizations, commend Democratic leadership for the inclusion in the budget resolution of a path to citizenship for immigrants who have been on the frontlines of the pandemic. As organizations that work together to promote racial equity, advance racial healing, and ensure that all children, families, and communities have opportunities to reach their full potential, we firmly believe that the inclusion of a path to legality and eventual citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients, and farmworkers and essential immigrant workers, is an integral component toward our national recovery.

We urge you to stay the course and not let up. It will take all of us, citizen and immigrant alike, to build a stronger and more equitable country as we emerge from the pandemic. Therefore, it is just common sense to advance this measure, which will bolster America’s ability to recover and rebuild while bringing much needed stability to the situation of millions of immigrants and the citizens and legal permanent residents in their families. Nearly six million children live with an undocumented loved one, including 400,000 U.S. citizen kids who have a parent with DACA or TPS.

Immediate legislative action is particularly needed after the recent court decision on DACA, which once again disrupts the lives of hundreds of thousands of youth who have been raised here and see this country as their own. Thousands of DACA recipients are essential workers, and part of the estimated 5.2 million undocumented immigrants who have served in critical functions, from agriculture to medicine, as the pandemic raged on. The reality is that their contributions to the social and economic progress of the nation long predates the pandemic.

You now have a historic opportunity and responsibility to take action and deliver on a path to citizenship, a solution nearly 80% of Americans support. While many of us have worked towards a congressional bipartisan agreement, and public support is bipartisan, Republicans in Congress remain determined to foil progress. Fortunately, there is precedent for the inclusion of immigration in reconciliation, and Democrats have the numbers to deliver it.

As 82 mayors from cities in 28 states recently conveyed to you, “[t]he only way we can truly Build Back Better is to ensure that Dreamers, TPS holders, and essential workers are included in any economic recovery legislation including through budget reconciliation.” We wholeheartedly agree. The time to act is now, and our organizations will continue to work to make this humane and popular solution a reality this year and hold accountable those who prevent it.

Sincerely,

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Derek Chauvin Sentenced; But the Road to Justice and Real Police Accountability Continues: Race Forward Calls for a Transformed System

More than a year after Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd, the former police officer was sentenced today to 22.5 years in prison.

While this sentencing does not represent the maximum sentence of 30 years as asked for by the prosecutor and the Floyd Family, it is significantly more than the 199 days time served and probation asked for by the defense.  We also know the sentence does not bring George Floyd back, nor does it make the U.S. criminal justice system any more just.

In the wake of continued killings of Black and Brown people, like My’Kiah Bryant, Daunte Wright, Andrew Brown, and Adam Toledo, Race Forward calls for greater urgency in reimagining public safety in a way that values, safeguards, and invests in the lives and communities of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian American and Pacific Islander people. As we call for the convictions of police officers who brutalize our communities, we also call for collective action to dismantle structural racism. 

It is not until we abolish oppressive systems and invest in the health and dignity of all people of color, that true justice will be served. 

To ensure freedom for communities of color, we demand accountability and a completely transformed system.

Civil Rights and Racial Justice Organizations Demand Accountability from CNN in Wake of Rick Santorum's Racist Remarks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 6, 2021
CONTACT: Elana Needle
Email: [email protected]

Rick Santorum, a former GOP Senator from Pennsylvania, Republican presidential candidate and senior CNN political commentator, recently made racist remarks at a conservative youth conference that perpetuate the systemic erasure against the influences of indigenous peoples in the United States from their contributions – past, present and future. Mr. Santorum asserted that “We birthed a nation from nothing. . . . I mean, yes we have Native Americans, but candidly there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.” To the contrary, Native American culture is quintessentially American culture.

These remarks are a gross attempt to play revisionist historian using classic white supremacist rhetoric, and is the exact type of dangerous manipulation we have come to expect from extremists and fringe outlets. But even worse are the great lengths to which CNN, a mainstream media platform tasked with the pursuit of truth and reporting on the facts, has gone to cover for this kind of blatant racist propaganda. It is these kinds of lies, fueled by outright racism, that continue to empower hate groups and white nationalists to commit acts of terror, including storming the Capitol on January 6th of this year.

It is bad enough that a one-time presidential candidate and former Senator is willing to promote false narratives for political gain. But to essentially justify the murder of millions of American Indians and Alaska Natives and the taking of their lands, and in the process erase their legacies and co-opt their countless and enduring contributions and influence, in the name of “Judeo-Christian” values is nothing short of repulsive.

Mr. Santorum’s remarks are not only factually incorrect but they continue the erasure of Native Americans contributions to this country. Today, there are 574 federally-recognized tribes and many more state-recognized tribes with a population of over 8 million.  Santorum’s inflammatory remarks dismiss each of the Tribal Nations who previously occupied the very state he represented as a member of Congress: Susquehannock, Erie, Lenape, Iroquois, Munsee, and Shawnee of Pennsylvania. In fact, it is because of our government’s aggressive and genocidal American Indian and Alaska Native removal campaigns that there are currently no federally recognized Tribal Nations in Pennsylvania.

After these remarks, CNN, a major media outlet which utilizes Mr. Santorum as a contributor made no comment, and its silence is deafening. By failing to denounce these comments, CNN intrinsically ties itself to a blatantly racist commentator. And, this is not the first time that CNN has outright refused to recognize and be inclusive of American Indians and Alaska Natives. In its live Election Night coverage in November, CNN, while listing white, black, Latino and Asian voters, labeled American Indian and Alaska Native voters as “something else.” When asked to issue an apology for that discriminatory coverage, CNN refused.

It is the denial of our government’s violent history by influential voices like Santorum, combined with the silence and complicity of media outlets like CNN, that continues to provide fodder for racists and extremists alike.

Particularly because of its continuing erasure and racism against Native Americans, we call on CNN to take immediate and swift action, including immediately denouncing these remarks, issuing a written apology to American Indian and Alaska Native communities, cutting ties with Rick Santorum, training and educating reporters and pundits on American Indian and Alaska Native culture, white supremacy and anti-racism, and encouraging reporting on race in a responsible and equitable way. The media holds enormous power and responsibility in the creation of American discourse on race; our very democracy relies on CNN rooting this discourse in racial justice values that promote the safety and wellbeing of everyone.

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The Racial Equity Anchor Collaborative includes the following leading national racial equity anchor organizations (the Anchors): Advancement Project National Office, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, Demos, Faith in Action, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Congress of American Indians, National Urban League, Race Forward, and UnidosUS. Supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, we work together to promote racial equity, advance racial healing, and ensure that all children, families, and communities have opportunities to reach their full potential.