Jacksonville, FL — New Florida Majority North Florida Regional Director Moné Holder released the following statement in response to the recent acquital of police officer Jeronimo Yanez in the death of Philando Castile and shooting death of Seattle mother Charleena Lyles.
It seems like not a day goes by without seeing the immediate life and death consequences of our society’s anti-black attitude. Whether you are talking about the recent acquittal of Jeronimo Yanez in the Philando Castile case, or the recent shooting of Seattle mother Charleena Lyles, the dangerous message that is being sent to both law enforcement and the public is clear: The use of deadly force is justified if you are in fear of your life, without a clear standard. That appears to be an almost instantaneous death sentence for people of color, especially for anyone black.
For better or worse, we live in an America that is still struggling to come to terms with how deeply ingrained the legacy of white supremacy is in many lives and institutions, even among those who want to be allies. Too many stereotypes continue to feed into old racist fears that dehumanize darker people. When your color makes you automatically threatening, regardless of the situation, how can every encounter not end in death or violence?
No community deserves to live in fear. Safety should be defined not just as freedom from crime, but also as freedom from the intimidation and abuse of the state. We need to do more local relationship-building to break the power of violent stereotypes. That means – here in Florida – doing more to discuss and dismantle anti-blackness attitudes, including in Latinx communities. It means pushing for legal reforms that allow juries to have more tools to hold officers responsible for their actions, even if it wasn’t their intention to cause an unjustifiable death.
It also means expanding our notion of who – or what – can provide safety. That’s why we at New Florida Majority look forward to working with state and local partners from Jacksonville to Miami to make August 1st a National Night Out for both Safety and Liberation. On that day, we recommit to doing more to make public safety more focused on the resources communities need to thrive and reach their potential. To see how having a living wage job, healthy food, healthcare, housing, education can do just as much, if not more, to provide long-term security than solely a gun or armed force.
We cannot let the injustices of today cloud and paralyze the future of another generation. Safety and equality are not benefits of a chosen few, but earned by us all.