National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial, Winston-Salem Urban League President and CEO James Perry, along with Urban League affiliate leaders from around the country, issued the following statement in response to the civil unrest sweeping the nation:
Our communities are overwhelmed with grief. We are heartsick over the inhumanity we have witnessed in the recent deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. We are appalled by the callous response from the authorities who shrugged in the face of evil.
Cities across the nation have erupted in rage and despair. As civil rights leaders who are committed to racial justice, we share the protesters’ anguish, and the heartbreak of the communities where uprisings have turned violent.
There are those who are inciting violence and mayhem. And there are those engaged in peaceful protest. No one should assume they are the same people, and we refute any attempt to discredit or dismiss the just cause for which people are marching based on infiltrators bent on sabotage. We support the right of citizens to engage in peaceful protest. We condemn the use of excessive force to dispel demonstrations.
We are hearing what Martin Luther King, Jr., famously called “the language of the unheard.” When George Floyd begged for his life as Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s throat, he was unheard. The onlookers pleading with Chauvin to stop were unheard.
The cries for justice have gone unheard long enough.
The long-overdue arrests of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers and one of the officers involved in George Floyd’s death are merely a first step in a long journey. The other officers involved in Floyd’s killing also must be held accountable.
The Urban League Movement has proposed specific recommendations for police reform and accountability. These include the widespread use of body cameras and dashboard cameras, revision of use-of-force policies, officer training and hiring standards, and the immediate appointment of independent prosecutors to investigate police misconduct.
But even more than these measures, we need a revision of our culture. It’s a culture that teaches a white woman walking her dog in Central Park that racially-motivated police brutality is a weapon she can use to enforce her own preferred social code.
As we pursue these measures to reform the police in our communities, we call upon all community leaders, elected officials, corporate leaders and social institutions to join us in pursuing policies that promote racial reconciliation.
The Urban League Movement is comprised of the National Urban League and its 90 affiliates, serving 300 communities in 36 states and the District of Columbia.
Marc H. Morial, National Urban League
Gilbert Bland, Urban League of Hampton Roads
N. Charles Anderson, Urban League of Detroit & Southeast Michigan
Phyllis Nichols, Knoxville Area Urban League
Germaine Smith-Baugh, Urban League of Broward County
Esther Bush, Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh
Otha Meadows, Charleston Urban League
Tiffany Majors, Greater Baltimore Urban League
Jennifer Lesko, Broome County Urban League
Eddie L. Koen, Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio
Cassandra Jennings, Greater Sacramento Urban League
Warren Logan, Urban League of Greater Chattanooga
Andrea Custis, Urban League of Philadelphia
James T. McLawhorn, Columbia Urban League
Parris Smith, Lorain County Urban League
Ray King, Urban League of San Diego County
George Dean, Greater Phoenix Urban League
Arva Rice, New York Urban League
Thomas Warren, Urban League of Nebraska
Nancy Flake Johnson, Urban League of Greater Atlanta
Michelle Merriweather, Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle
James Perry, Winston-Salem Urban League
Sorraya Sampson, Urban League of Westchester County
P.G. Peeples, Urban League of Lexington-Fayette County
Patrick Franklin, Urban League of Palm Beach County
Henry Thomas, Urban League of Springfield
Muhammad Umar, Urban League of Hudson County
Brenda McDuffie, Buffalo Urban League
Watson Haynes, Pinellas County Urban League
William Barnes, Birmingham Urban League
George Dean, Greater Phoenix Urban League
Dr. Eve M. Hall, Milwaukee Urban League
Ruben Anthony, Urban league of Greater Madison
Judy Morse, Urban League of Louisiana
Erin Houston, Shenango Valley Urban League
Glenton Gilzean, Central Florida Urban League
Theodia Gillespie, Quad County Urban League
Diane Stevens Robinson, Greater Stark County Urban League
Teddy McDaniel, Urban League of Central Carolinas
Teresa LeGrair, Akron Urban League
Scott Hamilton, Arkansas Urban League
Nina Harris, Springfield Urban League Inc.
Twina Nobles, Tacoma Urban League
Tonja Sesley-Baymon, Memphis Urban League
George H. Lambert Jr., Greater Washington Urban League
Steve Belton, Urban League of the Twin Cities
Sadiqa Reynolds, Louisville Urban League
Valerie Thompson, Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City
Marsha Mockabee, Urban League of Greater Cleveland
Richard Dogan, Urban League of the Upstate
Vanessa Allen McCloud, Urban League of Northwest Indiana
David Hopkins, Urban League of Greater Hartford
Gwendolyn Grant, Urban League of Greater Kansas City
Vivian Fraser, Urban League of Essex County
Karen Freeman-Wilson, Chicago Urban League
Seanelle Hawkins, Urban League of Rochester, Inc.
James Hall, Urban League of Racine and Kenosha
Thomas Conley, Greater-Warren Youngstown Urban League
Stephanie Hightower, Columbus Urban League
Laraine Bryson, Tri-County Urban League
Clifton Harris, Urban League of Middle Tennessee
Quincy Dunlap, Austin Area Urban League
Beneta Burt, Mississippi Urban League
James Hall, Urban League of Racine/Kenosha
Vincent Bell, Urban League of Greater Columbus
Michael Lawson, Los Angeles Urban League
Michael McMillian, Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis
Patrick Franklin, Urban League of West Palm Beach County
Tony Mason, Indianapolis Urban League
Richard Danford, Jacksonville Urban League
Judson Robinson Houston Area Urban League
Nina Harris Springfield Urban League