Lift Louisiana Responds to Tragic Events Last Week

We are saddened and outraged by the horrendous events that have taken place in Louisiana, Minnesota and Texas.  We condemn the fatal police shootings that ended in the death of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and we express our deepest sympathies to their families and loved ones.

We stand in solidarity against police brutality and excessive force and call for the critical community-based and data-driven reform of our criminal justice system and holistic law enforcement accountability.  We say the names Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, 2 of the 509 individuals who have been shot and killed by police thus far in 2016.

We stand up against all forms violence, be it official state violence like police deadly force or the sniper attack that killed 5 officers and wounded 12 in Dallas. Police reform and accountability does not mean attacks on police and we express our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those who were killed. We strongly believe it is a strategy of those fighting to maintain the status quote to equate the call for police accountability with police hatred.

However, the Louisiana legislature passed the “Blue Lives Matter” bill into law, making Louisiana the first in the nation where law enforcement and public safety workers are considered a protected class under hate-crime law. We understand that police officers risk their lives everyday in service to our communities and we are deeply grateful for their service. Including police officers in the definition of protected classes under hate crimes laws is unnecessary because Louisiana already has enhanced penalties for assaulting police officers and other law enforcement.

Tagging the bill with the phrase “Blue Lives Matter” is a not so subtle statement of opposition on the Black Lives Matter movement that is tackling legitimate and pervasive racial discrimination, bias and excessive force by police in communities of color across the nation.  It is a slap in the face to Black communities and other communities of color who are disproportionately affected by profiling, harassment and its progeny-mass incarceration.

In 2015, 124 officers nationwide died in the line of duty and fatal shootings of officers have decreased over the previous few decades. Contrast that with the 509 people that, according to the Washington Post, have been shot and killed by police just in this year – Alton was the 505th.

We will continue to fight against racism, including the systemic racism inherent in our nation’s criminal justice system because we believe that#‎BlackLivesMatter‬.

By Mandisa Moore’O’Neal and Michelle Erenberg

Justice for Alton Sterling Demonstration & March – Sunday July 10, 2016

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