CUSJ Outraged at Brutal Murder of George Floyd.
2020 06 04 For Immediate Release
As Canadian Unitarians we are touched profoundly by the events in the U.S., arising out of the murder of George Floyd by police. The massive uprising of anguish and rage that has gripped the U.S. has moved people around the world. We join with our U.S. sisters and brothers and with people everywhere who denounce racism and police violence and brutality.
We also commit to taking a deeper look at the reality of racism here in Canada. As Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana said, “For people of colour and especially black people, it has been generations upon generations and centuries of abuse and mistreatment.” We also recognize the deep, institutional racism inflicted upon Indigenous peoples in Canada that originates in the founding of Canada as a colony of Britain, based on the extraction of resources, the seizing of Indigenous lands and attempting to destroy their cultures and languages.
We recognize that state violence is endemic, long-standing and a function of structural white supremacy. White people hold the privilege and black and Indigenous people face daily harassment and are incarcerated at much higher rates than others in our unfair justice system. The Chinese and Asian communities also face similar kinds of intolerance and harassment.
The Unitarian Faith Community of congregations is committed to: the inherent worth and dignity of every person; justice, equity and compassion in human relations; and the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process in society at large. We call on our political leaders to dismantle systemic injustices in policing, our justice system and all aspects of public policy. We commit to holding our political leaders accountable and to be part of the transformation of our society to one that provides equity and justice for all.
Specifically, we call on law enforcement organizations to live out the “Serve and Protect” motto by actively training officers to avoid the use of the coercive power of the state and instead use de-escalation techniques to bring about peaceful resolution to conflicts, where possible. We also challenge Canada and its provinces and territories to reduce the size of police forces and use other methods of promoting community peace and co-operation. We support partnerships with groups in society that focus on economic and gender equality, eliminating poverty, housing all people in Canada, and providing healthy food for all. We call on all governments to provide protection to vulnerable populations (such as migrant workers, refugees, and temporary foreign workers) and to ensure everyone from every race and class has full access to health services, education and a healthy environment.
Our work as a society is far from done. As Unitarians and Universalists, we commit to working in our congregations and in society at large to build a country where everyone is respected and has what they need. UUs must do their part to help and support vulnerable populations in Canada. We recognize we live in a world of white privilege. We know we need to educate ourselves and recognize there is always more to learn.
Civil society alone cannot solve these problems through voluntary contributions. We need to recognize that racism and injustice are rooted in the very structures of society. Leaders at all levels in the public and private sectors must be involved. We all need to commit to a practice of decentering “white,” and listening to black voices. It will take all of us together to call out racism and injustice.
As Rev. Fulgence Ndagijimana has said, “there is no peace without justice. Feel the justifiable anger and rage. Identify your strengths to act. Go out and disrupt the white-supremacy system.”