Sign-On Statement for Muslim Orgs BLACK LIVES MATTER, AN AMERICAN MUSLIM COMMUNITY STATEMENT AGAINST POLICE VIOLENCE
This joint letter is co-convened by Muslim Advocates, and the Muslim Wellness Foundation. Please direct questions to
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BLACK LIVES MATTER, AN AMERICAN MUSLIM COMMUNITY STATEMENT AGAINST POLICE VIOLENCE
We, the undersigned American Muslim civil rights, advocacy, community and faith organizations, echo the calls being made nationwide for meaningful reforms to discriminatory law enforcement practices and violence against Black people in the United States.
Black lives matter. Yet, the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor are just the latest high-profile acts of violence against Black people at the hands of police. This disregard for Black lives is not new, it is woven into our country’s very existence and dates back centuries.
Black people are often marginalized within the broader Muslim community. And when they fall victim to police violence, non-Black Muslims are too often silent, which leads to complicity.
Evans County, Georgia police gunned down Yassin Mohamed -- a Black Muslim and Sudanese-American immigrant -- during a mental health crisis. His killing came after police had several encounters with Mohamed within a 24-hour period, with one requiring him to be sent to a local hospital for mental health care.
Shukri Ali Said, a 36-year-old Black Muslim woman and Somali-American immigrant who lived with bipolar disorder and schizoprenia, told her sister she was hearing voices and needed to run away. In response, her sister called 911 asking for help only for the Johns Creek Georgia police to shoot and kill Shukri. The officers were all cleared of wrongdoing by internal affairs and all are still employed as officers.
Stephon Clark, a Black Muslim and father of two children, was shot eight times by Sacramento police -- three times in the back -- in his grandparents’ backyard. Upon learning that the officers would face no charges, Clark’s friend Jamilia Land said "Stephon was unarmed and in no way a threat. Instead, they shot 20 times and hit Stephon at least eight times. Even then, they did not call for medical care even though he was bleeding profusely. Now the Sacramento district attorney says it's unjust to charge these officers with Stephon's murder. Where is Stephon's justice?"
The victimization of unarmed Black Muslims has a long and troubling history. In 1962, Malcolm X described a police shooting at a Los Angeles mosque that took the life of Ronald Stokes and injured six others that sounds strikingly familiar to the stories we hear today. “None of them were armed. None of them were struggling. None of them were fighting,” Brother Malcolm said. “None of them were trying to defend themselves at all.
In 1999, New York police murdered Amadou Diallo -- an unarmed Black man, a Muslim, and recent immigrant -- outside of his own apartment. Police fired 41 shots at Diallo without warning and without cause. None were convicted. One of the officers involved, Kenneth Boss, had previously killed a Black man who witnesses say was unarmed and, in 2015, Boss was promoted to sergeant.
Today, we are committing to take action in support of Black-led organizations on the front lines of this work. This is our fight. We join together to call for reform to our nation’s policing practices. We demand that actions be taken to:
- Establish a federal standard that use of force be reserved as a last resort, only when absolutely necessary, after exhausting all other reasonable options;
-Prohibit maneuvers that restrict the flow of blood or oxygen to the brain -- including neck holds, chokeholds, and similar excessive force;
-Prohibit racial profiling, and require robust data collection on police-community encounters and law enforcement activities;
-Eliminate government programs that provide military equipment to law enforcement;
-Prohibit the use of no-knock warrants;
-Lower the legal standard to make it easier for prosecutors to successfully hold law enforcement accountable;
-Develop a national public database that would cover all police agencies which would compile the names of officers who have had their licenses revoked due to misconduct;
-End the “qualified immunity doctrine” which prevents police from being held legally accountable when they break the law;
-End foreign military training for law enforcement;
-Terminate violent extremism programs and grants, and
-Redirect police funding into community health, education, employment and housing programs.
We recognize that discrimination pervades our entire justice system -- from policing to trials to prisons to re-entry barriers for returning citizens -- and that these demands only represent a down payment on the reforms that are needed. If this deep-seated discrimination cannot be done away with through reform, then these systems will need to be abolished and reimagined entirely.
As American Muslims, we will draw on our diversity, our strength, and our resilience to demand these reforms because Black lives matter.
We cannot, and will not, accept anything less.
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