The Black Jewish Justice Alliance (BJJA) is grieving and enraged at the murder of George Floyd at the hands of an officer of the Minneapolis Police Departement. However, this current moment of grief and rage is not only about George Floyd. It is about the targeting and killing of black people by “law enforcement” for centuries. From Bull Connor to Michel Moore, police departments across the country have seen themselves as protectors of property and not of the lives of Black and Brown people. Every time that there is another police shooting which is widely protested, and which in turn leads to Police assaults and violence, there is a momentary awakening; a moment in which people realize that the answer is neither more police nor more technology.
The BJJA joins our siblings and allies in the Black and the Jewish communities in demanding policies, politicians, and people who clearly understand what is happening to the vulnerable, the marginalized, and the disenfranchised. We demand a massive reduction in the budget of the LAPD and the LASD in favor of more spending in communities and alternatives to incarceration: education, rehabilitation programs, restorative justice programs, mental health care, clinics, and hospitals. We refuse to remain sanguine when low income, mainly black and brown communities, are over-policed but under-protected, while wealthy communities are over-protected with almost no police presence. We have long seen that more or different policing is not the answer.
The answer is investing in community solutions to community problems. The answer is providing housing for homeless people and families; the answer is providing jobs and economic support to people who are struggling financially; the answer is to invest more in the schools in poorer neighborhoods through a fairer tax system. The answer is to stop the cycle of violence in which armed policing is mistaken for order.
The Black Jewish Justice Alliance is a joint project of CLUE (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice) and SCLC-LA (Southern Christian Leadership Conference). The BJJA is a table at which Black and Jewish faith and advocacy organizations meet to work on issues of criminal justice reform and social justice more broadly.