April 21, 2021 — Housing Works today expresses our collective relief in response to yesterday’s conviction of former police officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd on May 25th, 2020 in Minneapolis, MN. Chauvin was found guilty on all three charges: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Mr. Floyd while in police custody.
We stand in solidarity with George Floyd’s family, his loved ones and community, the legal team and witnesses for the prosecution, protesters in Minneapolis and around the world, and all BIPOC people as the fight to live free from the fear of white supremacist and state-sanctioned police violence continues. We also extend our solidarity and love to our entire Housing Works community.
We are relieved to see legal accountability delivered for the killing of George Floyd and hope it brings some measure of solace to everyone affected by his brutal murder. However, legal accountability in the death of Mr. Floyd does not mean justice for Black and BIPOC lives has been realized. The constant killings of Black and Latinx people, unnecessarily and at the hands of police, are horrific proof of that fact.
True justice would mean an end to the white supremacist, violent system of policing and incarceration that we see across this country, day in and day out. True justice would mean we would not have to rely on a year of global protest, video proof of an extreme and heartless murder, and testimony from multiple witnesses and police officers to find Derek Chauvin guilty of killing George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for over nine minutes. True justice would mean an end to the trauma inflicted by law enforcement upon BIPOC communities through constant surveillance, intimidation, profiling, harassment, and violence. We call for radical transformation of policing such that the preservation of human life and dignity is seen as its purpose. We call for reducing the scope of policing such that alleged minor offenses do not become the occasion for inflicting trauma and pain. We call for allocating funds away from a reduced police force to other more effective interventions.
While there is some measure of closure in yesterday’s verdict against Mr. Chauvin, we, like much of the world, are in a constant state of grief and anger over the many Black people who are murdered by police in this country, and we call out for an end to the system that allows this to happen, again and again. We grieve for 20-year-old Duante Wright of Brooklyn Center, MN; we grieve for 13-year-old Adam Toledo of Chicago; and we grieve for Ma’Khia Bryant, a Black teenage girl shot to death yesterday in Columbus, OH after calling police for assistance. We grieve and we are moved to action, as we have been by the many people whose lives were taken before them.
While it may be gratifying to see some advancement toward reform, Housing Works supports divestment from law enforcement, decarceration, and investment in community support and solutions. We strongly support the BREATHE Act, which upholds these principles and offers a way forward out of the current paradigm of a police state, rather than more money for training and cameras. You can learn more about it here.
In NYC, we are readying ourselves for another round of budget hearings in which NYPD will ask for budget increases to support reforms that are merely obfuscations to increase their bottom line and leave their inherent racism and violence toward BIPOC people unaddressed. We commit to fight alongside our allies to reallocate at least $1B from the NYPD budget and get police out of responses to homelessness, mental health and substance use; and invest in our communities by investing in housing, healthcare and education. We also repeat our call for the New York City Board of Health to formally recognize racism and over-policing as intertwined public health crises and take real steps toward change and justice in the realm of public health.
We will continue to fight to end state-sanctioned white supremacist violence and for safety and equity for Black people.