NBJC Statement on Recent Tragedies in America & Aftermath
Washington, DC – Today, the Executive Director & CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks, released the following statement:
“As we grieve and pray for the families of Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge, LA, Philando Castile of Falcon Heights, MN, and the five police officers lost to senseless gun violence in Dallas, TX this past week, NBJC acknowledges the pain and suffering many Americans, but specifically Black Americans, are feeling during this time. Our hearts are broken because once again we have to face the reality that being Black in America—more often than most—equates to being accused of suspicion and ill-intent. At the same time, the movement to bring about liberation for Black people continues to be propagated as anti-American and anti-police, when in reality it simply demands we be treated with the dignity and respect accorded to all human beings—one of the most fundamental American values there is.
“The tragic yet resilient history of Black people in our nation reverberates in this present time. Black communities continue to be wrecked by so many injustices, and too many of us still face prevalent prejudice, racism and violence simply because of the color of our skin. Thousands of people have entered the streets in the aftermath of this week’s tragedies demanding justice and accountability from those in authority. This weekend more than 200 people, including DeRay Mckesson of the Black Lives Matter Movement, were arrested for demonstrating in the streets—utilizing their first amendment right to assemble and speak truth to power. As these protests and demonstrations continue to unfold in the days ahead, we must all do our part to balance the rights of protesters while recognizing the duty of law enforcement officials to keep the order in the streets. However, we will not standby and allow ‘protesting while Black’ to now become a criminal act.
“The climate of polarization and speaking past each other must stop. We will only move forward when social and systemic change manifests for all people—including the most marginalized and targeted in our nation. As Black Lives Matter co-founder, Alicia Garza, recently stated, ‘it is time in this country for policing to be accountable, transparent and responsible.’ This is the clarion call that all people of goodwill must stand united and in agreement. We must work as a collective to uphold our constitutional rights to protest, advocate, and vote to see the changes we desire in our nation. This is how we ensure that those lost to injustice did not die in vain.”