Statement: Together we must stand up for black lives

The Workers Circle joins organizations and people of conscience across this nation in condemning the violent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many other Black men, women, and children who have lost their lives to white racial violence. We solemnly recognize and remember the countless numbers of people of color who have suffered terror, exclusion, poverty, violence and death because of the structural racism that has poisoned our nation since its founding in slavery.

We stand with Black-led organizations and movements who have pioneered the way toward the America we must become; an America where black lives matter; an America that ends the centuries worth of unrelenting harm through overt and institutional violence against Black people; an America that is prepared to repair that damage using every means at hand.  

For 120 years the Workers Circle has labored to advance the rights of workers, immigrants, and economic justice for all. Our activism is grounded in the legacy of our founders who escaped the pogroms of Eastern Europe, and later Nazi fascism and the Holocaust, to seek a home in these United States where they could realize and contribute to this country’s promise of human equality, dignity, and freedom. We know the absolute importance of our nation’s proclamation, “all people are created equal” and the devastating ways America has failed to live up to this promise for so many. 

As Jews, we believe our rights are inextricably bound with the rights of others, particularly communities of color who have been targeted by racist policies and deadly violence for far too long.

We also know that we have been the beneficiaries of economic, political, criminal-justice, and social systems in this nation that have and continue to deprive, harm, and kill black and brown people with regularized, bureaucratized efficiency – from health care to school systems, from mortgage lenders’ redlining to intensified, aggressive policing, from pay inequities to ICE operations, from investments in private prisons to supply chains that treat workers as expendable. We see it as a moral obligation to stand unflinchingly with black and brown communities to hold these systems accountable and to hasten their change. Further, we recognize that this deadly, structural racism is as lawful as it is unjust. Therefore, together with thousands of people across this nation, we have risen up in peaceful protest to demand change, beginning by ending police brutality and ensuring accountable law enforcement.  

In light of the necessity of peaceful protest as an enduring and legitimate way that people have, can, and must assert their rights against systems, policies, and governments when they are not respected, we forcefully denounce the decision of President Trump to send troops into Washington, DC and his threat to do so elsewhere, as imperiling the very democratic foundation upon which our republic stands. 

We further denounce the militarized policing that has cost the lives of so many people of color and that is at risk of accelerating at this moment. We commend those members of the military and law enforcement who have spoken out and demonstrated solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives, and who in the daily exercise of their office are living out their oath to protect and defend all the people. 

In this perilous moment, we call upon all our elected leaders at every level of government to forswear the use of the military against this nation’s people, to swiftly pass legislation to end choke holds, neck restraints, knee restraints and similar deadly restraint tactics and to ensure transparency about police conduct and cases, as well as additional training and accountability when rules and protocols are not followed by law enforcement.

Racism undermines our democracy, compromising our nation’s commitment to “government of the people, by the people and for the people.” The Workers Circle stands united as allies in the fight to reclaim the fundamental promise of America for all its people.

To that end, we pledge to:

> Continue to work intentionally to eradicate systemic racism in our efforts for economic justice, immigrant rights, and worker rights as allies in the wider movement for black lives.

> Speak up within our own families, workplaces, communities, and places of influence to interrupt racism and engage in the hard conversations to change assumptions, words and behaviors.

> To use the privilege, financial resources, public voice, and consumer power we have in the service of ensuring the fundamental equality and rights of all people.

> Engage in non-violent protest, including civil disobedience when conscience dictates, with people of good will against racism and state-sanctioned violence.

> To vote to elect leaders who are committed — and to hold those elected accountable — to the urgent and necessary work of eradicating racism, repairing harm, and delivering on equality.

We take this pledge with the firm and sure goal of bringing our nation to the day when the promise of our creed becomes a reality for every person. Join us in taking this pledge.