Call to Action Against Police Violence
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Vermont chapter stands with NASW-Minnesota in expressing our sadness and outrage “at the events surrounding George Floyd’s death, and our hearts go out to his family, friends, and community” (NASW-MN, para 2). The urgency of the hour demands that we channel the energy and stand with the protesters to demand an end to excessive and lethal use of force by police (NASW, 2020). We further agree that “we must ALL join this fight. At times in our history when big shifts were made, it was because people came together. Together we must start imagining and work toward an equitable future” (NASW-MN, para 2).
Previous efforts to reform police policies have brought only modest success (NASW, 2020). Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed that “a riot is the language of the unheard,” and these violent protests are manifestations of internalized racial oppression/ inferiority (NASW-TX, para. 2). We want to be part of the solutions therefore,
- We ask for the UN to investigate police killings of Black people and attacks on protesters in the US (ACLU, 2020).
- We condemn national leaders for advocating armed attacks against peaceful protesters and fanning the flames of division, violence and hate (NASW-TX, 2020).
- We pledge to work in our communities to create change in police culture to ensure “Black lives are valued as much as that of other Americans” (NASW, 2020, para).
- We will each examine our contributions to racism and White supremacy and implement a personal plan to disrupt racism and White supremacy.
- We call for NASW to condemn the profession’s current and past support for, and participation in, mechanisms that support racism and oppression.
- We will be responsible to disrupt racism in our own organizations and social service delivery systems, refusing to support policies and practices that violate our code of ethics.
We mourn for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, Philando Castile, Jamar Clark, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Rekia Boyd, Trayvon Martin, Tarika Wilson, Walter Scott, Aiyana Jones, Sean Reed, Tony McDade, Alton Sterling, Amadou Diallo, and the many other victims of police violence.
This is only a beginning. This is a call to action for the sake of the lives of people of color today and for generations to come. As social workers we don’t just call for change, we have an obligation to change systems by our action. As noted by our national organization, social work is political!
Working alone can lead to despair. Working together, we can build hope and create transformation.
Press Release: NASW condemns yet another incident of lethal police force against an African American
NASW Social Justice Brief: The role of racial profiling in encounters with police
ACLU. (2020). ACLU Invites ‘Scrutiny and Judgment’ From UN Body Whose Members Include Egregious Rights Violators. Retrieved from https://www.cnsnews.com/article/international/patrick-goodenough/aclu-invites-scrutiny-and-judgment-un-body-whose-members
NASW. (2020). NASW condemns yet another incident of lethal police force against an African American. Retrieved from https://www.socialworkers.org/News/News-Releases/ID/2164/NASW-condemns-yet-another-incident-of-lethal-police-force-against-an-African-American.
NASW-MN. (2020). NASW Minnesota Chapter outraged by death of George Floyd by police. Retrieved from https://www.socialworkers.org/News/News-Releases/ID/2163/NASW-Minnesota-Chapter-outraged-by-death-of-George-Floyd-by-police.
NASW-TX. (2020). America’s leaders are not addressing racism in this country: NASW/TX statement. Retrieved from https://www.naswtx.org/news/510278/Americas-Leaders-Are-Not-Addressing-Racism-in-This-Country---NASWTX-Statement.htm