Last Monday, a police officer in Minneapolis senselessly killed George Floyd by kneeling on his throat for nine minutes. Since then, countless people have peacefully protested this injustice across dozens of states and the consequences have been heartbreaking. In many places, law enforcement has responded with excessive force, needlessly escalated tension, and used careless, brutal measures to suppress both peaceful protests and bad actors.
This entire event exposes the sickness of a criminal justice system that disadvantages and disproportionately punishes black and brown people at every stage, from policing to trial to incarceration to collateral consequences. It exposes a sickness at the heart of a policing philosophy that believes that might and violence, not trust, justice, and cooperation, establishes lawful order. It exposes a sickness at the heart of a political system that fails to protect the rights enumerated in the constitution to all people as soon as it becomes inconvenient to the status quo. And now just as ever in this system, protecting black lives proves inconvenient.
At South Carolina Appleseed, we work to treat this sickness every day. Injustice at the courthouse, statehouse, and public square are rarely independent of each other. Poverty, state violence, and racism are all fruits of the same rotten tree, and we can’t hope to solve one of them without solving all of them.
For these reasons among others, we call for a fair, independent, and transparent investigation of the death of George Floyd and affirm the right to a fair trial for those criminally charged for his death. We condemn all violence, and the needlessly reactive measures by some law enforcement officials. We also praise those exercising and protecting the rights enumerated by the first amendment, from peaceful protestors to the many law enforcement officials trying extra hard to alleviate tension. Finally and most importantly, we affirm that black lives matter and reiterate that this affirmation means nothing until America acts to change this institutionally racist system.