WASHINGTON, D.C.—(ENEWSPF)—December 8, 2014. On Wednesday, a Staten Island grand jury failed to indict an NYPD officer who used an illegal chokehold on unarmed Eric Garner, leading to his death. Two weeks ago, twelve-year old Tamir Rice, was fatally shot in a two-second encounter with Cleveland police. Both follow several instances of young, unarmed blacks killed, manhandled or attacked by police officers, nationwide. While these cases have recently captured media attention due to subsequent protests erupting across the country, sadly police brutality against blacks in the United States is not new. But the people have had enough.
Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica issued the following statement:
We cannot lead a meaningful fight for the environment without first taking steps to address the unequal valuation of life within it. I am deeply outraged and, frankly, dumbfounded that two recent grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City failed to indict the police officers responsible for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Indictments would have allowed the facts to be adjudicated in courts of law and may have provided some assurances that our justice system works.
How tragic that those sworn to protect, serve, safeguard and defend—whose ranks are composed of working class people—have become the blunt instruments of oppression; who instead enforce, persecute, murder, antagonize, harass and subjugate. It is often said that injustice to one is injustice to all; and not in recent years has that been truer in this nation. The preventable deaths of Mike Brown, Darrien Hunt, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Aiyana Jones, Oscar Grant and dozens of others bespeak not just a systematic injustice, but of a cancer in our national consciousness that seems to place little value on the lives of black and brown people. Moreover, it is endemic of our society’s failure to overcome the superficial partisan, ethnic and perceptive differences that prevent us from moving forward as a nation and truly as one people. This is not a peripheral problem or a special interest. This is a national crisis that continues to tear the richness of our social fabric.
Social justice and environmentalism are connected. One cannot proceed without the other. This country was set up to be run by the people for the people, yet its many institutions continue to effectively place more value in some lives than others. Our mission is to create a healthier and more just world, but we have little hope of success if our nation cannot agree on the definitions of chokehold, unarmed and murder; let alone clean air and water. My only solace is that these decisions will hopefully dispel the myth that we live in a post-racial America and that it will force each of us to recommit to fighting for a society free of these injustices.
We stand in solidarity with the individuals and organizations that are protesting and demanding justice for the many lives lost to racial injustice, and urge our members to lend their voices and bodies to this renewed struggle.