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Advancement Project Calls on America to Move Beyond Police and Prisons: “We Can’t Reform This System”

Alex Jordan

“We Can’t Reform This System”—Advancement Project Calls on America to Move Beyond Police and Prisons

A year after George Floyd’s murder, Advancement Project National Office reflects on how to build a #FreeandSafe society for all people of color

WASHINGTON, DC –Tomorrow will mark one year since George Floyd was murdered by Derek Chauvin—a brutal act that highlighted the violence inherent to policing and spurred the largest uprising for racial justice since the Civil Rights era. Advancement Project National Office, a national civil rights and racial justice organization, is dedicating this week to reflecting on George Floyd’s memory and discussing how to build a future where all people are #FreeAndSafe.

“George Floyd deserved life; he deserved to live on as more than a memory to his family and his community. He deserved life—its freedoms and its triumphs,” said Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director of Advancement Project. “Instead, George Floyd was murdered by a police officer. His death was shocking, and it was also utterly routine. Over the last year, we have added dozens of names to the grim list written on our hearts— David McAtee, Ma’Khia Bryant, Adam Toledo, Rayshard Brooks—all the while, police have targeted, incarcerated, and immiserated countless Black, Brown, and poor people whose names and stories we will never learn. People of color will never be free and safe in America until we move beyond prisons and police.”

Over the last year, Advancement Project has worked with grassroots partners across the country to help win freedom and safety for Black, Brown and poor people being targeted by the criminal legal system: bringing lawsuits against jails in Miami, St. Louis, Detroit, and Baton Rouge over their dangerous, inhumane conditions; winning COVID-19 protections for people who are incarcerated in Oakland County jail, taking on the discriminatory and unconstitutional cash bail system, supporting efforts to Close the Workhouse in St. Louis, and shifting perceptions and understandings of policing and incarceration through the Mapping Injustice and #FreeBlackWomxn campaigns. Advancement Project also helped ensure that power in the streets translated to power at the polls—working in states across the country to preserve access to the ballot during a global pandemic and fighting back against a wave of voter suppression aimed at communities of color.

“When people across America and the world went into the streets to demand racial justice last summer, they were not just crying out for George Floyd—they raised their voices for the generations of Black, Brown, Indigenous, and poor people whose lives and communities have been destroyed by policing,” said Thomas Harvey, Program Director of Advancement Project’s Justice Project. “The oppression of Black, Brown and poor people in this country will not end so long as the institutions built to maintain America’s foundational white supremacy stand.  We can’t reform policing; the only choice is to defund the police on the way to abolishing them and building a world that is free and safe without them.”

This week, Advancement Project will use its social media platforms and website to reflect on the last year of work to build a #FreeAndSafe society for people of color and the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

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