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April 22nd Statement Release

There are lessons and parallels that can be learned from police violence against Black people that’s at the center of public debate in Minneapolis, Columbus, Knoxville and cities across the nation. As a new mayoral administration takes shape, the City of Chattanooga, like so many communities across the U.S, must end state violence, and reimagine public safety beyond policing.

Daunte Wright, 20 years old, was murdered by the police roughly ten miles from where Derek Chauvin was on trial for the murder of George Floyd. On March 29th, in Chicago, 13 year old Adam Toledo was fatally shot by officer Eric Stillman. Adam Toledo, a seventh grader, had his hands in the air when Stillman shot him. On April 12th, Anthony Thompson Jr. a 17 year-old student at Austin East High School in Knoxville,TN was fatally shot by officer Claybough. In Columbus Ohio, the police have murdered 16 year old Ma’Khia Bryant, who reportedly called the police for help herself. Bryant’s mother recalls that “Ma'Khia had a motherly nature about her. She promoted peace.” Ma’Khia was shot four times at point blank range.

Young Black lives dying at the hands of the police force is a nauseating display of the neoconfederate white supremacist systems that remain institutionalized in the U.S to this day. The Chattanooga Police are known for committing acts of violence against young Black people in our city as well. Our communities are rarely afforded the components of procedural justice that many departments prop up as signs of progressive policy making, such as: (1) a fair and equitable process (2) full transparency; (3) voice during conflicts encounter and incidents, and (4) impartiality when it comes to decisions and outcomes. These principles are illusory and practically nonexistent. Historically law enforcement derives from slave patrols, black codes, convict leasing, and white supremacy itself. Police are inherently oppressive, and we can no longer allow them to abuse and murder Black people in the streets, at schools, and in our homes.

We demand:

  • An end to the criminalization and mass incarceration of Black and Brown people

  • A ban on ICE from detaining and deporting anybody in Chattanooga

  • Reparations to victims of police violence and to the families of victims killed by law enforcement

  • Abolish the senseless cash bail system that keeps our people locked in cages just for being poor.

  • Dramatically divest from the CPD budget, and invest into our communities through a grassroots participatory budgeting process.

For too long our communities have been given short term remedies aimed at mitigating community concerns in lieu of long term strategies and solutions that would serve to address the root causes of police misconduct and violence. Implicit bias training has not worked; diversity and sensitivity training has not worked; equipping officers with body and dash cams has not worked; community immersion has not worked; that's because these petty reforms fail to address the root causes of state violence. The system of white supremacy is fueled by institutions such as police departments, and until policing as we know it is dismantled, state violence will continue.

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