May 31, 2020
The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle is saddened and outraged by the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed black man, earlier this week in Minneapolis. A white law enforcement officer held his knee to Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes. Floyd gasped for air and repeatedly pleaded for his life while three other officers did nothing.
We protest George Floyd’s tragic death, yet one more in a seemingly endless string of violence perpetrated against black people in our country today. We must also remember, protest, and say the names of the other victims of recent senseless killings:
- Dreasjon (Sean) Reed, a 21-year-old from Indianapolis who died after being shot at least eight times by a police officer (May 6, 2020).
- Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old who was shot eight times by Louisville Metro Police Department officers who entered her apartment while serving a “no-knock warrant” (March 13, 2020).
- Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old and who, while jogging, was chased down, shot, and killed by a retired police officer and his son in Brunswick, Georgia (Feb. 23, 2020).
Judaism is clear about our obligation to not stand idly by in the face of injustice. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said, “In a free society, only some may be guilty but all are responsible.” Peaceful and lawful protest shines a light on the injustice whereas violent protest only causes harm and must be strongly condemned. We must redouble our efforts to combat racial bias and violence, the structural and systemic racism that continues to deprive black Americans of justice and equal opportunity, and the apathy that allows too many to turn a blind eye.
The Jewish Federation is proud to advocate for racial equity in our criminal justice, education, and human services systems. We will strive to raise up the voices and center the experiences of people of color, including Jews of color, in this work. We do this to stand in solidarity with those who are marginalized, and to honor those who stand tall and are resilient in the face of oppression. We ask the whole of the Jewish community to join with us.
In Judaism, through the value of B’Tselem Elokim, we are called to see and protect the life and dignity of every person. Our job will not be done until the mothers and fathers of black and brown children across our country are treated justly and equitably, and until these parents have peace of mind that their children can run, play, and work in safety and freedom.
#JusticeforFloyd #ICantBreathe #TikkunOlam #PrayWithYourFeet
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