A protest in Colorado against racism (Pic: by Joseph Rouse)
More than 100 LGBTQ organisations in the US have condemned racism, racial violence and police brutality in the wake of the slaying of George Floyd.
The groups, led by the Human Rights Campaign, issued an unprecedented open letter ahead of the start of International Pride Month, which is celebrated every June.
The US has been rocked by nightly protests in cities across the country since video footage emerged of Floyd being arrested by Minneapolis police on the accusation of a relatively minor offence on 25 May.
Officer Derek Chauvin was seen holding Floyd down on the ground with his knee on the 46-year-old African-American man’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds until he died, despite his desperate pleas that he could not breathe.
“When we see injustice, we must speak out as strongly as we can,” said Alphonso David, President of the Human Rights Campaign. And we have seen a lot of injustice lately. From George Floyd, to Ahmaud Arbery, to Breonna Taylor, to Christian Cooper, to Nina Pop. The LGBTQ community is familiar with fighting against systems of power that are set up to serve the privileged few. And we are united to fight the systems that target our Black and brown siblings, today and always.”
The letter reads, in full:
LGBTQ Organisations Unite to Combat Racial Violence
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Those words, written over 30 years ago by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, remind us that indifference can never bridge the divide of hate. And, today, they should serve as a call to action to all of us, and to the Movement for LGBTQ equality.
This spring has been a stark and stinging reminder that racism, and its strategic objective, white supremacy, is as defining a characteristic of the American experience as those ideals upon which we claim to hold our democracy — justice, equality, liberty.
- We listened to the haunting pleas of George Floyd for the most basic of human needs — simply, breath — as a Minneapolis police officer kneeled with cruel indifference on his neck.
- We felt the pain of Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend as he called 9-1-1 after plainclothes Louisville police kicked down the door of their home and shot her eight times as she slept in her bed.
- We watched the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery by white vigilantes in Brunswick, GA, aware that they evaded the consequence of their actions until the video surfaced and sparked national outrage.
- We saw the weaponising of race by a white woman who pantomimed fear in calling the police on Christian Cooper, a Black gay man bird-watching in Central Park.
- We have heard and read about the killings of transgender people — Black transgender women in particular — with such regularity, it is no exaggeration to describe it as an epidemic of violence. This year alone, we have lost at least 12 members of our community: Dustin Parker, Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, Yampi Méndez Arocho, Monika Diamond, Lexi, Johanna Metzger, Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos, Layla Pelaez Sánchez, Penélope Díaz Ramírez, Nina Pop, Helle Jae O’Regan, and Tony McDade.
All of these incidents are stark reminders of why we must speak out when hate, violence, and systemic racism claim — too often with impunity — Black Lives.
The LGBTQ Movement’s work has earned significant victories in expanding the civil rights of LGBTQ people. But what good are civil rights without the freedom to enjoy them?
Many of our organisations have made progress in adopting intersectionality as a core value and have committed to be more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. But this moment requires that we go further — that we make explicit commitments to embrace anti-racism and end white supremacy, not as necessary corollaries to our mission, but as integral to the objective of full equality for LGBTQ people.
We, the undersigned, recognise we cannot remain neutral, nor will awareness substitute for action. The LGBTQ community knows about the work of resisting police brutality and violence. We celebrate June as Pride Month, because it commemorates, in part, our resisting police harassment and brutality at Stonewall in New York City, and earlier in California, when such violence was common and expected. We remember it as a breakthrough moment when we refused to accept humiliation and fear as the price of living fully, freely, and authentically.
We understand what it means to rise up and push back against a culture that tells us we are less than, that our lives don’t matter. Today, we join together again to say #BlackLivesMatter and commit ourselves to the action those words require.