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This Week In Climate (In)Action

THIS WEEK IN RACIAL JUSTICE (IN)ACTION – JUNE 05, 2020

Jun 5, 2020

Your weekly resource to learn what the environmental movement is saying about the news of the day and the political fight of our generation. Be sure to follow LCV on Facebook and Twitter.

QUOTES OF THE WEEK:

Let’s be honest. Black pain, grief and rage are not only dismissed by elected officials, our response to those feelings are also criminalized.

— Black Lives Matter Co-founder Patrisse Cullors.

“There can be no column long enough for all the names — over hundreds of years of enslavement and decades of Jim Crow — of the victims of the violence perpetrated under color of law against black people in America.”

— Former U.S. Representative and current LCV Board Member Donna Edwards in a Washington Post op-ed.

“Say it louder for the people in the back…

THE FORCES THAT DEFEND WHITE SUPREMACY AND THE FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY ARE ONE IN THE SAME.

The Hennepin County (MLPS) police traveled to #StandingRock to terrorize water protectors.”

— Hip Hop Caucus via Twitter.

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LCV IN THE NEWS:

E&E News: Energy, environmental groups address national unrest

Heated: The climate movement’s silence

The Washington Post: The Energy 202: Green groups back protesters. But they’re grappling with how best to address their own issues with race.

The Washington Post:There seems to be nothing our black sons and daughters can do to remain alive

Politico: Green groups pivot to back protests against police: ‘People see those deep connections’

E&E News: Pandemic, unrest may elevate environmental justice agenda

E&E News:‘Overwhelmingly white’ green groups forced to confront past

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BLACK LIVES MATTER: The protests and activism over the last week sparked by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police have brought a larger issue to the forefront: the Black Lives Matter movement. The abuse of Black people in this country is nothing new — the only thing new is the cameras around to document it. The Black community continues to carry the generational traumas of their ancestors some 400 years later. LCV and Chispa stand behind the protests, support the greater Black Lives Matter movement and fully recognize that Black lives matter. Please read the two statements LCV put out this week. One statement condemning the attack on D.C. protesters and supporting the Black lives movement, and the other stating our commitment to the fight for Black lives. Our colleagues at Chispa released a full statement on their pledge of solidarity within the Black Lives Matter movement. Chispa’s statement and frontline work to build the power of Latinx families in the fight for environmental justice is the embodiment of social justice, racial justice, and unity. 

We are dealing with a human rights issue, the right to simply live comfortably in your skin without the fear of being murdered because of it. It is important that we uplift Black voices, leaders and organizations who are doing the heavy lifting on the frontlines. They are in the streets fighting for change, not just in this moment but every single day. Please support the frontline organizations below, and click here to find out how you can get involved:

NAACP Legal Defense Fund

National Bail Fund Network

Black Lives Matter

Movement for Black Lives

Black Visions Collective

Color Of Change

We must remember that activism is not a trend, Black Lives Matter is not a trend, and, to do our part in supporting, we must follow the lead of Black organizers, protesters, and leaders. Speak up, donate, and march — but don’t stay silent.

BLACK LIVES HAVE ALWAYS MATTERED: This week, LCV, along with over 400 organizations, joined the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights’ letter to Congress, urging them to take action against the police brutality that the Black community continues to unjustly endure. The letter calls for specific federal reforms to policing, including on the issues of racial profiling, use of force, police accountability, militarization, data collection, and training. In addition to the LCCHR letter, LCV joined the National Parks Conservation Association’s letter to the Department of the Interior on the despicable acts on peaceful protesters by the U.S. Park Police in Washington, D.C. Black people are continuously murdered by the police with little to no consequence — this cannot continue. The police are sworn to protect and serve — that includes Black lives.

BLACK LIVES WILL ALWAYS MATTER: One after another, environmental organizations are stepping up and issuing statements to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Groups are using their platforms to amplify the voices of protesters, calling for justice for George Floyd and an end to systematic racism — for most of these organizations, the demands of black activists hit very close to home. This week’s weekend read, by Washington Post writer Dino Grandoni, reminds us that white men have historically dominated the environmental movement. Further, major green groups, including LCV in the past, have largely prioritized conserving remote wilderness for recreational use over combating pollution that disproportionately affects low-wealth communities and communities of color. We at LCV recognize that we have perpetuated a white-led movement that has, too often, failed communities of color. While we and many other environmental organizations are taking steps to make racial justice and equity a central goal, much work remains if we are to truly dismantle racism in our environmental policies and movement. 

BEING BLACK IN AMERICA — SAY THEIR NAMES: In her emotionally raw testimony about life as a Black woman raising Black kids in America, LCV board member Donna Edwards asserts in her Washington Post column that “there seems to be nothing our black sons and daughters can do to remain alive.” Edwards recounts the stories of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Christian Cooper, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Botham Jean, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and many more. Each of their lives was violently cut short because of white supremacy perpetrated under color of law. Until we see widespread systematic change to the way we value Black lives in this country, no Black mother will be able to protect their children any more than George Floyd’s deceased mother could protect him. 

BLACK LIVES STILL MATTER: Black journalists in the field covering the nation-wide protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd are reporting under the constant threat of being racially profiled by police on the scene. While CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez was arrested on live television in Minneapolis, other Black reporters have braved rubber bullets and tear gas to capture the historic events unfolding before us. . Moreover, the safety risk goes beyond the physical as Black reporters are tasked — day in and day out — with explaining Black pain to a largely white audience, who likely will never fully understand. And they shoulder all this while remaining objective and clear-eyed for the camera. As Chicago’s CBS-2 reporter, Dorothy Tucker, says, “the attack on press freedom is disheartening on its own — but imagine the terror of wearing both a press badge and black skin in this country at the same time.” 

BLACK CLIMATE LEADERS: Leading Black climate activists are speaking out about the connection between racism and the climate crisis. In her op-ed about the impacts of racism on the environmental movement, Ayana Elizabeth Johnson questioned, “how can we expect black Americans to focus on climate when we are so at risk on our streets, in our communities, and even within our own homes?” Black people are consistently shown to be more concerned about climate change than white people (57 percent vs. 49 percent). However, Black Americans that are committed to finding climate solutions must also spend time and energy finding ways to survive as Black in America. Later in the week, the New York Times Climate Fwd amplified the voices of respected climate leaders Sam Grant, Robert D. Bullard, and Heather McGhee. All three laid out reasons environmental organizations must use this moment to take concerted efforts to implement anti-racist programming. Heather McGhee explained, “it’s essential to have anti-racism baked into the goals that even white-led organizations are pursuing because both political racism and environmental racism are drivers of our excess pollution and climate denialism.”

DAY OF MOURNING: Civil rights leaders called on the nation to observe a National Day of Mourning on Thursday to stand with the Black families and communities who remember loved ones lost to police violence. George Floyd lay on the street with Officer Derek Chauvin’s knee on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. On Thursday, as George Floyd’s family laid him to rest, LCV joined the nation in observing 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence to remember George Floyd and to reflect on racist police violence. As National Urban League President Marc Morial remarked, “a day of mourning becomes a day of peace, a day when people focus on the meaning of Mr. Floyd’s life. Mr. Floyd is not a statistic. Mr. Floyd is not just a name. Mr. Floyd is a person with a family that loved him.”

MY LIFE VS. MY RIGHT TO VOTE: Voter disenfranchisement plagued Washington D.C and Maryland’s primary elections this week after many voters never received absentee ballots they requested, and faced extremely long lines at polling places limited in capacity due to public health restrictions. COVID-19 has not disappeared and neither has its disproportionate impact on the Black community. People risked their lives to vote during a pandemic — some even standing in line until midnight. Unfortunately this was a repeat of Wisconsin where some of the longest lines were in Black communities, leaving Black voters faced with a tough choice — their health vs. their right to vote.

HOLD THE SYSTEM ACCOUNTABLE: Representatives Raúl M. Grijalva and Deb Haaland led a letter to the Department of the Interior requiring further information on the U.S. Park Police’s role in violent and forceful attacks aimed to clear peaceful protesters from Lafayette Park ahead of President Trump’s photo opportunity at St. John’s Episcopal Church. Trump’s dictatorial behavior, endangering Black Lives Matters protesters and their constitutional right to peaceably assemble, is not only a gross misuse of power, but a troublingly violent manifestation of his consistent racism against the Black community. The Park Police’s role in this brute show of force needs to be examined and held accountable — their job is to protect our public lands and the people in those spaces, not to carry out the racist political whims of the president. The Black community has been met with violence when simply trying to advocate for their rights as human beings. This administration cannot continue to put Black lives in danger.

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HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE STATES: 

SUPPORT BLACK LIVES: Many of our state affiliates have spoken out in support of Black lives or taken action in some way over the last week. Here is a selection of examples from the states: Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin

 

COMING UP:

June 19: Juneteenth – a celebration of the end of slavery in the United States that, as Vann R. Newkirk II wrote, “celebrates liberty in America as it actually is: delayed”

November 3: Election Day