Our biweekly lists lay out notable issues in the news and tell you what you can do about them.
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Both art pieces by @shirien.creates
Hi everyone! We still have a regular list coming out next week with some updates on a few other topics (abortion access, vaccines, some Trump stuff, election, etc.), but social media has been overwhelmed these past few days with images and actions regarding the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis. In light of George's story, there has also been a lot of sharing of the stories of other victims of police violence, including Breonna Taylor, whose story we cover in this list.
This list is going to have some emergency actions, split into a few sections. You can take note of the links to documents that are updating more frequently than we are.
Remember, if this is your first experience calling or emailing about something like this, you can always look to our Basics page for help and/or email or DM us if you need help. You can also look to our Index by the Issues page for some of our previous coverage on police brutality and institutional racism.
The killing of George Floyd incited major public unrest: the Twin Cities riots began the next day at the site of his death in protest of the Minneapolis police. Although initially peaceful, the riots quickly became violent—the MPD 3rd Precinct was vandalized, an Autozone and a Wendy’s was set on fire, and a nearby Target was looted. The Third Precinct was set ablaze as well. Police responded by firing rubber bullets into the crowds and deploying tear gas. Mayor Jacob Frey officially declared a state of emergency in Minneapolis on May 28th. Individuals in other cities throughout the country mobilized quickly as well, with marches against police brutality occurring in places like Denver, Phoenix, New York City, Louisville, and Columbus. President Trump tweeted in response to these riots by threatening Frey with sending in the National Guard if he doesn’t “get his act together and bring the city under control,” adding, “any difficulty and we will assume control, but when the looting starts, the shooting starts.
The easiest action to take is signing and sharing petitions, which takes around 30 seconds.
Petition for County Attorney to arrest and charge the officers who murdered George Floyd
Petition to the mayor of Minneapolis for the officers who murdered George Floyd to be arrested and charged
Justice for Breonna Taylor (extensive list of demands can be seen at link)
Breonna Taylor petition (2)
White House Petition
This link will take you to an extensive list of petitions for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other victims of police brutality
Sign this petition to support the publicly proposed Hands Up Act which would punish police for shooting unarmed citizens
Calling various people in power works because the sheer number of calls puts pressure on them. Learn more about calling here.
SCRIPTS (via The Gathering for Justice)
1. Contact Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman
Call: (612) 348-5550 *Leave a voicemail if unanswered*
Script: Hello, my name is [your name], and I’m contacting your office with regards to the murder of George Floyd. I am demanding that you immediately arrest and charge the responsible officers - Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Kueng. We cannot continue to allow police to act with impunity, as they violently brutalize our Black siblings/us. Accountability is essential, and I want to remind you that the entire nation is calling on Michael Freeman to act and get justice for George’s family. Thank you.
2. Contact Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey
Call: (612) 673-2100 *Leave a voicemail if unanswered*
Script: Hello, my name is [your name], I’m contacting your office with regards to the murder of George Floyd. I implore Mayor Jacob Frey to make the necessary requests to arrest and charge the officers who are responsible: Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Kueng. I’m also asking that your office redirect funding from the Minneapolis Police Department to community programs that will help reduce the amount of violence in Minneapolis. Floyd should be alive today, and Minneapolis needs Mayor Frey to stand with the community in demanding accountability. Thank you.
3. Contact the Minneapolis Police Union
info: the Minneapolis Police Union has consistently resisted reform and kept offering "warrior-style police training" even after it was banned in the city.
Script: Hi, my name is _____ and I'm calling because I demand action for the racist murder of George Floyd by your police officers. I demand that you hold Minneapolis Police Officers accountable now and in the future to assure that this never happens again. This includes stopping your offering of warrior-style police training. Furthermore, the union should assure that all officers involved face criminal consequences for his murder. George and his family and all people affected by irresponsible police violence deserve justice. Thank you.
4. For Breonna Taylor: The Action Pac has a calling hotline that will walk you through instructions and help you call this list of people:
- Public Integrity Unity of the Louisville Metro PD
- Commonwealth AG Tom Wine
- Kentucky AG
- State, local, and federal officials
You can click here to call for her.
5. Email script: click here.
PLACES NOT TO DONATE TO: Don't donate via change.org and don't donate via Shaun King or his organizations-- he has a history of mishandling funds and stealing the work of Black women activists. (Link to article explaining this)
PLACES TO DONATE TO:
If you go to an in-person protest:
PLEASE make sure to continue to social distance as much as possible and wear a mask at all times (to protect against COVID-19 and to protect your identity). If you have loved ones at home who are vulnerable, consider not going. Make sure to stay healthy and safe and remember, there are always things to do from home.
Further Antiracist resources
Another video went viral this week: it was recorded by Christian Cooper, a Black man who is a birder in Central Park. Cooper was in the Ramble, a birding area in the park, when he encountered Amy Cooper (no relation) whose dog was off-leash. Christian asked her to put her dog on the leash because it is dangerous for the birds (and required by the park rules) and Amy Cooper did not comply; he began to film the situation and she demanded he stop filming as she stepped towards him. She then threatened to call the police, saying "I"m going to call the cops and tell them an African-American man is threatening me." You can watch the video yourself, but it is a chilling reminder of how racism is weaponized. This is why changes to the institutional systems are not enough. Amy Cooper was weaponizing the police because she knew that it was a threat to Christian and would put him in a potentially deadly situation like the one we saw with George Floyd. That desire to weaponize racism would have come through no matter what the medium was-- in this case, the police.
This is precisely why tackling this requires deep introspection and anti-racism on the part of white people in this country who can change the deep-seeded attitudes and sinister undercurrents of the culture of this country. Here are some resources for anti-racism.
Some currently proposed policies to fight police brutality
Below, we’ve listed concrete policies every state legislature and/or local police department should implement to fight police brutality.
As a disclaimer, we want to clarify that these policies are still not enough (see above section) and a police institution founded on racism cannot ever be "reformed" enough. One concrete action you can take is asking your mayor to defund the police and invest in other areas.
As we wrote in last week's list, NYC mayor Bill De Blasio proposed a budget that cut the NYPD budget only minimally but cuts hundreds of millions of dollars from public schools. You can click here to take action on this.
That being said, there are policies that can help with these issues, even if they don't solve them — this section is for you if you are feeling helpless, and are especially empowered by research and data. Research what policies your area has, then call and email your police chief and state legislators to demand they implement those they lack. If you’re unable to figure out specifics, list them all; ask for accountability in enforcing the policies, as well as in publicizing them. We've previously covered nonviolent de-escalation tactics-- find link here.
First, has your local police department implemented these eight use of force policies? A 2016 policy analysis by Campaign Zero examining 91 of the 100 largest police departments in America found that the policies tangibly reduce the number of individuals killed by police. (You are three times more likely to be killed by police if you are Black than white.) The report found that the average police department reviewed had adopted only three of the policies, and not a single one had adopted all eight.
Other key policies:
A more detailed community action manual for combating police brutality from the ACLU is here.
With that, we're signing off.
We love you and hope you're doing well.
Peace, power, and solidarity,
These lists include featured organizations, scripts, numbers, news updates and inspirational activists.