Supporting Black Lives on Juneteenth (and Every Day)

Today is Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Union army general Gordon Granger announced federal orders in the city of Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, proclaiming that all slaves in Texas were now free.

Juneteenth honors Black freedom and Black resistance. And it serves as a reminder that, despite our country's founding rhetoric, many were excluded from that promise of freedom -- and, indeed, that promise has yet to be fully realized.

Racism, both individual and systemic, remains a pervasive problem in society, especially in policing and the criminal-legal system.

However, as Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley says so well, if policy created these injustices, we need policy to undo them.

An Act to Save Black Lives by Transforming Public Safety

We still have work to do in Massachusetts to address the structural inequities. An Act to Save Black Lives by Transforming Public Safety, introduced by Representative Liz Miranda (HD 5128) and Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Creem (S.2968), will take important steps in the effort toward equity and justice. This legislation establishes:

  • Strengthened use of force rules
  • New investigatory requirements within Attorney General’s Office
  • Creates a “Duty to intervene” when an officer witnesses abuse of force
  • Establishes that unnecessary use of force by an officer violates someone’s civil rights
  • Data collection and reporting processes to prevent hire of abusive officers
  • Prohibition on no-knock warrants
  • Prohibition on the use of choke holds, tear gas, and other dangerous “less than lethal” weapons and tactics
  • Public records of police misconduct investigations and outcomes

Massachusetts needs to pass HD5128/S2968 to save Black lives and transform our public safety system.

Can you email your state legislators in support?

Investing in Communities, Not the Carceral State

But reform can only go so far.

As budget season nears, the Legislature will have the opportunity to put words into action and craft a budget that shows that they actually mean it when they say that Black Lives Matter.

What would that look like?

Our allies at Families for Justice as Healing are calling on Governor Baker, Senate President Spilka, and Speaker DeLeo to commit to the following:

1) No capital bond money for new jails or prisons
2) Cutting the budget for the Department of Corrections
3) Cutting the budget for sheriffs
4) Increasing funding for communities, which means housing, healthcare, community-led organizations, and community-led economic development

In short, we should be spending on communities not on criminalization.

Can you email Baker, Spilka, and DeLeo in support?

Want to do more? Of course you do! Families for Justice as Healing also has an ongoing week of action, where you can find new things to do each week to advance a more humane, just, and equitable society.

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