EOI will be taking Thursday, June 4 off to participate in the National Day of Mourning for Black Lives.
The Economic Opportunity Institute stands in solidarity with Black, Indigenous and people of color who suffer murder and repression at the hands of law enforcement agencies. The state violence directed at people of color is the result of racist structures that permeate every level of government and society.
At EOI, we understand that there is no such thing as a race-neutral policy. Every policy either contributes to maintaining racial inequity or establishing equity between racial groups. We continue to strive to enact progressive, equitable, and targeted universalist policies to change Washington for the better.
Police brutality is a mechanism of a white supremacist system that works in concert with other racist structures and institutions.
There is so much to be done. As a society, we have come to rely on the police to do too much, and have channelled funds into militarizing police rather than investing in our communities. A city budget is a moral document, and the misallocation of funds speaks to the failures of our society. If cities were to start investing in the community – education, mental health, social services – they reduce the need to call police in the first place.
Second, we need to reduce the amount of non-violent offenses instituted during the era of Broken Windows policing. This will allow police to focus on violent crime instead of criminalizing the poor.
Third, police need to be held accountable for their actions, for the murders they commit, for the policies they pass that allow people to be treated as expendable, and for their words and actions that foment division and hatred.
We live in a system where the police are tasked with monitoring themselves, with few enforceable consequences. After police killed Charleena Lyles in her home, the criminal case against them was dismissed in 2019 because Washington State law gave them “complete defense” for any wrongful death. That same year, Seattle City Council voted to roll back police accountability measures, approving language saying “in any conflict between the accountability laws and the language of the contract, the contract language takes precedence.”
These are just a few of the problems. The system is broken on every level, and every effort to patch it in the last decade has failed. We need a massive overhaul.
For EOI, this is a moment to redouble our efforts to advance anti-racist economic and health policies at the state and local levels. More than that, we will support POC-led organizations on the front lines of fighting police brutality and reworking the system.
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