We Demand an End to Police Violence and Systemic Racism

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Giffords and Giffords Law Center demand an end to police violence and other forms of systemic racism in America.

As the leaders of a gun violence prevention organization, we work to save lives from gun violence every day. The unjust police shootings of civilians is gun violence, and we cannot fulfill our mission without full acknowledgement of that. We stand with the Black Lives Matter movement and are committed to fighting police violence and other manifestations of systemic racism that lead to the deaths of so many Black and Brown people. Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, David McAtee, George Floyd, Sean Monterrosa, and Tony McDade are just the most recent names in a long history of unjust killings that are the inexcusable consequence of structural racism.

Beyond police shootings, systemic racism impacts firearms violence, and thus our work, in myriad ways. The gun lobby frequently advocates for policies that further entrench and worsen systemic racism. We have researched and advocated against stand your ground laws that allow racist vigilantes to escape accountability. We have developed and are working to more broadly apply an equity approach to implementation of firearms laws. We have also done extensive research and analysis on the need for structural reform to America’s system of policing and called for law enforcement agencies to act immediately to incorporate changes to better protect the sanctity of all human life.

We have often missed the mark and have much work still to do. We stand with Black and Brown communities who are most impacted by this violence. We stand for equity and justice, and we are committed to turning our outrage into action.

Today we commit to:

  • Prioritizing genuine community partnership and proven preventative responses to violence, like the group violence intervention strategy that has saved so many lives in Oakland.
  • Supporting legislation to revise use-of-force policies and emphasize de-escalation and “less-than-lethal” technology in place of firearms.
  • Supporting creation of a federal database for police misconduct and imposing strong standards to prevent jurisdictions from hiring officers with records of misconduct in other departments.
  • Advocating for better funding for the US Department of Justice so that federal authorities have the ability to investigate abuses in police departments.
  • Increasing public investments in proven community-based efforts to interrupt cycles of violence and retaliation.
  • Examining the ways in which the criminal penalties associated with some gun safety laws can cause harm, and exploring court diversion and rehabilitation programs as alternatives to incarceration.
  • Supporting the appropriate use of body and dashboard cameras and the adoption of strong standards for ensuring they are used appropriately.
  • Limiting the transfer of military-grade equipment to local police for use against civilians.

Now is a time for action. We, as the leaders of Giffords and Giffords Law Center, are committed to holding ourselves accountable, supporting Black and Brown advocates leading this work, championing evidence-based approaches, and applying an equity, inclusion, and diversity lens to all of our efforts.

Peter Ambler
Executive Director
Giffords

Robyn Thomas
Executive Director
Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence