Justice Lab statement on the murder of George Floyd

June 13, 2020

The Justice Lab at Columbia University stands in solidarity and honors the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery. Their killings, and those of countless others, are a grave injustice.

They should still be with us. Their killings represent the depths of dehumanization long endured by Black people. The continued overuse of policing and incarceration in Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities is racist and intolerable. 

We must work together to build a society that centers community well-being, dignity, healing, and full democratic participation. To build this society, we must follow the lead of Black, Brown, and Indigenous community members. We need to invest in social sectors that are in the service of life: healthcare, housing, education, economic security, and political rights, while dismantling this justice system and reckoning with the white supremacist legacy it carries. Unless communities that have been systematically oppressed and neglected have control of the resources and opportunity necessary to dictate their future, white supremacy will continue.

During the uncertain times of COVID-19, we call to radically reduce the use of the police, the national guard, and the military in response to peaceful protests and to focus on de-escalation strategies. Arresting protestors, brutalizing them, and holding them in jail will only further the spread of COVID-19 and exacerbate racial disparities and racial injustice. 

We stand with all those who are working for racial justice and we are committed to dismantling a justice system that for decades––in the name of public safety––has targeted, punished, disenfranchised, and dehumanized Black, Brown, and Indigenous people.