Black Lives Matter!
Over the past few months, the country has reeled from a series of needless shootings and killings of Blacks. Most Brown and Black people have known all along that they are not safe in their homes, neighborhoods, parks, or schools. The modern day public lynching of George Floyd has made it quite clear that injustice, not justice, is what people of color and the poor can expect. What is different about the latest murder is that it was available for all to see with no room for deniability. An accusation of passing a counterfeit $20 dollar bill became an opportunity for racists in uniform to demonstrate their right to humiliate, terrorize, and execute a vulnerable Black man. Even those who might consider themselves relatively safe must worry about the vigilante in the park willing to call upon the authorities to execute their color and class privileges.
Days went by without anyone being charged over the death of George Floyd. Until now, three policemen continue to walk the streets. The machinery of legal enforcement has historically been reluctant to arrest, appropriately charge, and prosecute these killers. Under public pressure, typically only the lightest charges and mildest sentences are given out if at all. It is unclear whether any official response would have been forthcoming had it not been for public pressure in the face of undeniable evidence.
Public officials and the usual talking heads will focus on the violence in the streets. Instead, we urge there to be a serious and productive response to longstanding injustices. All those involved in the killing of George Floyd should be charged. Serious changes must be made to shift the current system of law enforcement by transforming its dysfunctional culture, changing its recruitment patterns, and instituting real community oversight and evaluation. Programmatic focus must address longstanding inequalities in economic opportunity, health care, and education, including responding to the needs of those immigrants who today are being drafted into the army of “essential workers” with little regard for their health and safety. Until this happens, any established peace and order will only be temporary.
The Illinois Latino Council on Higher Education stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. We share a common cause. Our fortunes are interwoven.
Black Lives Matter!
ILACHE Letter to Jesús G. "Chuy" García