We Must Defund Police and Invest in Black Liberation

We are grieving and outraged by the police killing of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Our Jewish community sends love and solidarity to Daunte Wright's family, to George Floyd's family, and to Black communities mourning and resisting in Brooklyn Center, the Twin Cities, and all across the country.

Yesterday, the Brooklyn Center police chief and Kim Potter, the officer who killed Daunte Wright, resigned. Today, Potter was arrested and charged with second-degree manslaughter. But we know resignations and reform are not justice, and one arrest will not address systemic injustice. The same systems of policing, criminalization, and white supremacy that killed Daunte Wright, George Floyd, Philando Castile, Nekeya Moody, and Jamar Clark are still in place — and they are cracking down on Black-led protest right now.

Police have already shot tear gas and rubber bullets at grieving community members and in residential neighborhoods across several nights. Minnesota state and local governments imposed an evening curfew — further restricting the rights of protesters, intimidating Muslim Minnesotans on the first night of Ramadan, and hampering frontline, essential, and public health workers during a pandemic. Boarded-up grocery stores and businesses are making it hard for residents of Brooklyn Center to get their basic needs met.

This isn’t public safety. It’s state violence. There is no justification for police murder. There is no justification for criminalizing Black people, poor people, and people with disabilities. There is no justification for militarized law enforcement in our communities.

To fulfill a vision of safety for all, our country requires transformation and action at all levels. It’s why Bend the Arc supports the demand to defund the police and invest in our communities.

We are fighting for an end to our system of policing that terrorizes, dehumanizes, and discriminates against Black communities — and for a new vision of public safety that truly allows everyone to live free and thrive.

We must continue to fight for a country and a world where Black liberation is a reality. Here’s a few ways you can take action in solidarity with that vision:

➤ Learn about the BREATHE Act.
The BREATHE Act is a visionary framework that would divest our taxpayer dollars from violent and discriminatory policing and invest in a new vision of public safety — one that answers the call to defund the police and allows all communities to finally BREATHE free.

Read more about the BREATHE Act and how we can reimagine public safety and community care together.

➤ Support the national fight for reparations.
This week, the House Judiciary Committee is considering HR 40, which would establish a commission to study the impact of slavery on Black Americans and develop a proposal for reparations. This resolution has been introduced in Congress for decades, but this is the first committee vote.

Bend the Arc is proud to be a part of a coalition of 300+ groups supporting this resolution sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee — and you can show your support online by using this toolkit.

➤ Defend the rights of Black protesters in Florida.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is doing everything in his power to crack down on Black-led protest. HB1/SB484, which is being heard on the state Senate floor this week, is a violently regressive piece of legislation that would restrict the rights of Black and brown people to peacefully assemble. If the bill passes, Floridians exercising their First Amendment rights could face up to 15 years in prison and have their voting rights taken away.

Bend the Arc leaders in South Florida, Jacksonville, and across the state are joining with statewide partners to call on corporations to take action against this bill. Send a message now to corporations like Disney, Coca-Cola, Burger King, and Publix and demand that they condemn this bill.

➤ Demand a commutation for Pervis Payne in Tennessee.
Pervis Payne has been on death row for 33 years, despite living with an intellectual disability and without key evidence from his case being tested. At the core of Pervis’ story are the intersecting legacies of anti-Black racism, ableism, and injustice — ones that as Jews and people of faith, we have a duty to rise up against. His temporary reprieve from execution expired last week, meaning we need to take action now.

Bend the Arc leaders in Memphis and Tennessee faith leaders launched this letter to Governor Bill Lee calling on him to commute Pervis’ sentence – and we’re asking people across the country to join us in support. Add your name now.

➤ Take action to support the PROMYSE Act in California.
Bend the Arc: Jewish Action's California chapters and minyanim are proudly co-sponsoring SB 493, the PROMYSE (Promoting Youth Success and Empowerment) Act. The bill would reinvest hundreds of millions of dollars annually away from law enforcement and into public agencies and community-based organizations.

The PROMYSE Act represents a visionary shift towards restoring justice and equity to youth and communities of color — an intervention we desperately need. If you’re a California resident, please add your name — and if you’re not in California, help spread the word!

Bend the Arc is committed to Black lives and Black liberation. Together, may we fight for a country where that vision is realized, where we are free from white supremacy, and where all of us are safe and thriving.

Thank you for being part of this movement,

The Bend the Arc team