Letter to the Editor: Statement Against Police Brutality Against People of Color

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The Faith Action Network of Washington State joins with many across this nation in deploring the latest murders of Black Americans by police and in calling out for justice. We speak the names the victims of this recent racist violence and we grieve for their families, their communities, and our nation.

  • George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis this past weekend while begging for his life. (May 25, 2020).
  • Dreasjon (Sean) Reed, a 21-year-old from Indianapolis died after being shot at least eight times by a police officer (May 6, 2020).
  • Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, was shot eight times by Louisville Metro Police Department officers who entered her apartment while serving a “no-knock warrant” (March 13, 2020).
  • Ahmaud Arbery was chased down, shot, and killed by a retired police officer and his son while jogging in Brunswick, Georgia. (Feb. 23, 2020).

These names are added to a very long list of African-Americans and other people of color murdered by police or self-declared vigilantes in our nation over many decades. In Washington State, according to a database maintained by the Washington Post, 59 persons of color have been killed by police since January 1, 2015, including Che Taylor, Charleena Lyles, John T. Williams, and Antonio Zambrano-Montes.

These killings are the product of a criminal justice system deeply infected by systemic racism and supported by the assumption of white supremacy. Indeed, racism and white supremacy are part of the very fabric of American life, with impacts on virtually every institution and sphere of activity.

Our various faith traditions – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, and others – teach us about the dignity and worth of each individual in the eyes of our Creator and the imperative that we treat one another in the light of that truth. Furthermore, our traditions teach us that we must all be accountable to God and to one another for the well-being of our neighbor. We must speak out when the essential human dignity of anyone is denied.

As people of faith in the State of Washington, we unequivocally condemn the sin of white supremacy that in many different ways robs or kills people of color every single day.

We call on the faith communities of this state and our political leaders to commit or recommit themselves to changing this system and the attitudes and practices that perpetuate it.

More specifically we call for:

  • Full implementation of the police accountability legislation, adopted by the 2018 Washington State legislature and based on Initiative 940.
  • The City of Seattle and the Seattle Police Department’s withdrawal of the motion to terminate the sustainment plan of the consent decree from federal court and completion of the court ordered process of accountability.
  • A Department of Justice investigation into the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery being called for by the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee

As people of faith in the State of Washington we acknowledge and lament when we have been complicit in these structures of oppression. We say today, Black Lives Matter, all persons have dignity, and the violence must stop.

In solidarity, the Governing Board and Staff of Faith Action Network,
Rev. Carol Jensen, Chair, Everett
Rev. Nigel Taber-Hamilton, Secretary, Whidbey Island
Carolyn Stevens, Treasurer, Seattle
Aneelah Afzali, Seattle
Rev. Lee Carney Hartman, Snoqualmie
Rev. Jim CastroLang, Spokane
Jonis Davis, Seattle
Sara Franklin-Phillips, Kent
Rev. Ken Jones, Yakima
Sabiha Khan, Tri-Cities
Rabbi Ruth Zlotnick, Seattle
Rev. Paul Benz, Co-Director
Elise DeGooyer, Co-Director
Tara MillerBerry, Administrative and Development Coordinator

To submit a letter to the editor email TracySimmons@SpokaneFAVS.com.

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