TCJC condemns targeted and police violence against Black people and people of color across the country and reaffirms commitment to racial justice.
While coronavirus has ravaged our prisons, jails, and communities – hitting poor people and people of color particularly hard – another epidemic has captured our national attention: race-based violence. The brutal images that have arisen in the last two weeks are burned into our consciousness: a police officer remorselessly murdering George Floyd in broad daylight, kneeling on his neck long after he’d lost consciousness; an ex-police officer and his son hunting down Ahmaud Arbery as he took a jog, and not being charged until video of the murder was met with public outrage; plainclothes officers shooting EMT Breonna Taylor eight times while their suspect was already in custody; an officer firing at Michael Ramos, who was unarmed and fleeing police aggression in South Austin. This past week, as protests around the country urged change, we again saw police brutality: a woman pushed so violently by a police officer in Brooklyn that she lost a shoe and suffered a serious seizure; a protestor trampled by a police horse in Houston; a Black man standing calmly as Austin police sprayed tear gas into his face.
We often refer to our “broken” justice system, but the truth is that it is operating exactly as intended. Our country, founded by genocide against indigenous people and built on the backs of Black people, has an inherent legacy of violence. Police brutality is one symptom of this legacy, but it’s far from the only one – police, prosecutors, judges, and corrections systems carry out state-sanctioned violence regularly. Our justice system has done what it was meant to do: commit violence overtly, implicitly, and repeatedly.
As we approach the five-year anniversary of Sandra Bland’s death, a tragedy that began as a traffic stop in Waller County, Texas, our team is taking time to mourn. We say the names of the many victims of police brutality, and we also mourn for those whose deaths were not captured on camera or brought into the public view, whether at the hands of police or in our prisons and jails. We affirm our commitment to dismantling the systemic racism on which this country was founded. Our mission is to end mass incarceration and build Texas communities that are safe and thriving. These last few weeks have shown more than ever that real public safety does not come from rubber bullets and prison bars. We want to envision a Texas and, in turn, an America, where no one is forced to live in fear because of the color of their skin, and where every person has the opportunity to feel safe, have hope, and succeed.
Image: Pu Ying Huang for The Texas Tribune