Rutgers AAUP-AFT POC Caucus
We condemn the police murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, grieve with their families and community, and stand in solidarity with their calls for justice. As educators and scholars proudly serving the diverse communities of New Jersey, we are acutely aware of the toll that systemic, state-sponsored violence takes on our own union membership and the students for whom we are responsible. We are following up on the Rutgers AAUP-AFT Executive Council statement on Monday with this call to action.
Last Monday, we awoke to horrible news of the police, once again, brutally murdering an African American person. As three other law enforcement officers participated, Derek Chauvin, of the Minneapolis Police Department, killed George Floyd by placing his knee on Floyd’s neck and suffocating him. Among his last words were “I can’t breathe,” a cry that has become all too common to victims of racialized state violence in the United States. Similarly, on March 13th, officers from the Louisville Police Department — armed with a “no-knock” warrant and battering ram — broke into the home of Breonna Taylor without identifying themselves. They shot Taylor eight times and killed her; she had been studying to be an emergency room technician. To stop these violent, premature deaths, we stand together with a broad coalition to demand that all of the officers who perpetrated these brutal killings of black men, women, and non-binary people be held accountable.
This is not the first time that police have terrorized Black people and communities through the use of excessive, lethal force. Law enforcement has consistently targeted populations of color, including African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans for brutalization, arrest and hyperincarceration. George Floyd’s murder is the latest example of how overlapping systems of state violence, economic divestment, and neglect have harmed Black and Brown communities. As thousands of people across the United States and other parts of the world protest and stand in solidarity with George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, we would like to honor the lives lost to racial violence, including Toni Mcdade, Ahmaud Arbery, Korryn Gaines, Jason Pero, Gabriella Nevarez, Eric Garner, Eleanor Bumpers, Tamir Rice, Rekia Boyd, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Tanisha Anderson, Jamar Clark, Anthony Baez, and many, many others.
Massive demonstrations have swept the United States and other parts of the world, with tens of thousands of people risking injury and illness during the CoVid-19 crisis to come together and call for justice for Taylor, Floyd, and all the other victims of state violence. We must end the carceral regime that produces premature Black death.
This is not just a Minnesota or Louisville story, or simply a protest about police killings. The mutually reinforcing systems not only of police violence, but also of redlining, environmental racism, and structural health care inequalities have made populations of color disproportionately vulnerable to the ravages of CoVid-19. Structural racism’s physical and economic effect on Black, Brown and Indigenous people has reached a critical point in our history, and a large and diverse group of people are demanding change. In the New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia metropolitan areas where Rutgers University’s three campuses are located, thousands of people have stood up to demand an end to police violence and the criminalization of African Americans. In many cities, demonstrators have been met with an unconscionable level of brutality from the police.
We stand firmly on the side of justice for Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and all victims of state violence. We therefore call for an end to police militarization, racial profiling, hyperincarceration, and killings.
We also call for everyone to show solidarity with the Louisville and Minneapolis communities. We join the call for Justice for Breonna Taylor and the Louisville community, and we call for donations to support protestors in Kentucky, such as the Louisville Community Bail fund. We join the call for justice from Minnesota’s governor and the call to defund the police in Minneapolis. Further, we call for donations to local community organizations supporting Minneapolis protestors, such as Black Vision Collective, Reclaim the Block, and Unicorn Riot, and to the official George Floyd Memorial Fund.
Further, we call for solidarity with demonstrators and victims of state and white nationalist violence around the country. To support the national and regional bail-fund efforts, consult these resources for up-to-date information on where and how to financially support organizing in communities that need it, such as Birmingham, Alabama, where the police have been particularly brutal, and white supremacists have threatened to bomb the 16th Street Baptist Church.
Finally, we call on President Trump, officials from all parties, and Democratic mayors and governors in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and across the country, to recognize the trauma and mourning that drives mass protest, to immediately deescalate and demilitarize the police, and to invest public resources in long-term solutions to the inequalities we face. Likewise, we call on the leadership of Rutgers University to halt layoffs and firings of blue-collar workers and to invest in the urban New Jersey communities (Newark, New Brunswick and Camden) in which its campuses are located.
People of Color Caucus
Executive Council of the Rutgers AAUP-AFT