A Conviction is Not Justice

Dear Community,

This week we heard a verdict that delivered some justice to George Floyd’s family, to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities in the U.S., to Minnesotans of all races and creeds, and Black communities worldwide. Shortly thereafter, we were barely unable to exhale when we heard of the violent taking of the life of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, who called the police for support only to have her life taken at their hands. I know I speak for the AFF staff in sharing that we, like many of you, are holding complex emotions amidst overwhelming grief…for George, Ma’Khia, Daunte, Adam and for the countless others across generations who we’ve lost to police violence.

I want to lift up George Floyd’s family — nothing can ease your pain. Our deepest condolences and desire for healing and repair. I want to lift up Darnella Frazier, the 17-year-old Black girl who shot the videotape that documented Derek Chauvin’s brutal murder of George Floyd.

I want to lift up the Black Lives Matter movement, countless organizers and allies who took to the streets, and the folks in community who made it their business to demand justice — all with the purpose of honoring George’s memory, deepening their personal commitment to the fight for racial justice and bravely dismantling white supremacy one interaction at a time.

I want to lift up people-power and acknowledge those who saw injustice, and spoke out against it with their bodies, through their organizing, their art-making, their donations, their work at the polls, their prayers, their love and their truth-telling.

I want to lift up the jury — six white and six Black/People of Color — who together were able to ensure that accountability at the hands of our legal system could be realized. It was not that long ago that juries let off George Zimmerman, Daniel Pantaleo (who killed Eric Garner) and countless others (police and civilians) who haven’t been held accountable.

It was painful to explain to my children as we awaited the verdict that just a few short decades ago, unpunished deaths of Black people were social events called lynchings in our country. They were filled with joy and celebration for some white communities and terror and deep pain for Black and Indigenous and People of Color communities. At their young ages, my children were skeptical but more hopeful than I was for justice. To this day, the rage and sorrow I felt 30 years ago for Anthony Baez and Amadou Diallo as a young girl in the South Bronx — the lesson that I lived in a place that allowed unpunished police violence — was imprinted in my being forever. This week’s verdict is held amidst the memories of countless incidents of state-sanctioned violence against BIPOC communities. Grantee partners like Movement for Black Lives, Make the Road NY, Communities United for Police Reform, Live Free Campaign, Young Women’s Freedom Center, among so many others, have the track record to prove that this demand for justice continues to be a long road.

I wish I could feel a sense of gratification about this verdict, but all I feel is deep grief and loss. Our current justice system can’t undo the harm and loss of life. It can’t prevent future harm or police violence. It won’t bring back George, Daunte, Adam, Breonna, Ma’Khia, Anthony or Amadou. Only an altogether different system of community safety and care — the abolition of punitive systems like police and prisons — can deliver justice, safety and a guarantee for a deep regard for human life.

I send you all solace in the grief and strength for our collective fight. I send my deepest sympathy and bittersweet acknowledgement to our Black, Brown and Indigenous family. Our lives have intrinsic value. It is in moments like this when our connection, conviction and organizing — our songs, prayer and ancestral music — come to lift us out of the abyss.

Now is the time for philanthropy to deeply resource BIPOC-led frontline organizations that are advancing abolitionist strategies, healing justice and long term power building for BIPOC communities. It is time to open the floodgates of resources that have historically been locked away and fund well beyond the IRS-required 5 percent. People’s lives are literally on the lines — BIPOC-led organizations need robust resources to turn the tide and powerfully defend communities while building the community-based safety alternatives that render prisons and policing obsolete.

M4BLIn closing, I want to direct you to a statement from the Movement for Black Lives, on what true justice for George Floyd looks like and how we can continue to push the movement forward. To support Black-led organizations in Minneapolis and across Minnesota during in this critical moment, consider giving to:



Be on the lookout for updates to this blog post about action steps philanthropy and communities can take as directed by our movement partners.

In hope and justice,
Manuela Arciniegas, Director

Road to Abolition

The Communities for Just Schools Fund (CJSF) and the Andrus Family Fund (AFF) hosted a virtual plenary session on December 2, 2020 as part of their Education Anew: Shifting Justice (EASJ) convening. “The Road to Abolition” featured movement organizers and leaders who shared strategies and victories that are leading us toward abolition.

Speakers:
Monifa Bandele, Movement for Black Lives, Policy Table
Erin Cloud, Movement for Family Power
Zachary Norris, Ella Baker Center
Ashley Sawyer, Girls for Gender Equity
Nyoka Acevedo, Andrus Family Fund (Moderator)

Resources:
Movement for Family Power on child welfare system abolition
Movement for Family Power
Slideshow on anti-carceral feminism and education justice
GGE Assault At Map
Critical Resistance
Defund the Police Toolkit
The M4BL Vision for Black Lives
The Breathe Act

Black Lives Matter, today and every day

The following is a statement co-signed by our Director, Manuela Arciniegas, who serves as the co-chair of Funders for Justice.

We say their names: Breonna Taylor in Louisville, KY, George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN, Ahmaud Arbery in Glynn County, GA, Tony McDade in Tallahassee, FL.

We Stand in Solidarity: Funders for Justice stands in solidarity with protestors in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and in cities across the country, fighting for the lives and freedom for all Black people. We know that communities are powerful, and will dream and fight for the transformative justice in which together we create the new world we all need. As funders, our mandate is to fund communities rising up against state violence, and to continue to fund as communities build the power and momentum for long-term change.  

We Must Continue to Challenge White Supremacy: While police killed unarmed Black people over and over again, we witnessed no police response to armed white nationalists posted in front of state capital buildings and yelling in the faces of security guards, demanding an end to shelter in place because they wanted to get a haircut and go out in public without a mask.   

Stand with Black Women Essential Workers: Breonna Taylor was a young Black woman who was an EMT – an essential worker already risking her life during a pandemic. Yet we repeatedly witness evidence that the state does not protect or respect the people, especially Black women, risking their lives to save others. Essential workers are already facing dangerous conditions, with extremely limited protection equipment, low pay, often dangerous commutes to work, and then in turn endangering their families. That Breonna was one of the latest casualties of state violence is profoundly painful.   

How to Support Protestors: We encourage you to fund communities directly, including at times when groups are not able to fill out even a short proposal or form because they are leading protests in the streets. We encourage you to give now however your foundation is able – including getting creative in mobilizing resources – perhaps to use your foundation’s expense account to send money for needed supplies like water and food. And, we encourage everyone reading this to make a personal donation, because as FFJ members we all come to the work we do as the full people that we are: part of communities fighting in resistance, part of communities fighting for survival, part of communities taking action in solidarity.

Invest/ Divest Now: While millions of local dollars are cut from city budgets – in youth programs, health services, and education, among others – due to shortfalls, the police unions/associations continue to push for more money and more police. Yet police are not saving people in this pandemic – they are policing, fining, and sending people to jail – mostly Black people. The federal administration has refused to send more supplies and funding to medical workers and other frontline workers, while increasing funding to police-related spending and private security guards.  

We All Have A Mandate: Philanthropy’s mandate to support communities in living healthy and free lives means funding both the public infrastructure that keeps communities safe – like health care, housing, and education –  and funding the people, organizations, and the movements rising up against police violence and building power to defund the police, prisons, ICE, and detention centers. Philanthropy must support divest/invest campaigns and other abolitionist strategies, because nothing the police do is meant to ever keep communities of color safe. Now is the time to divest from the police, when cities are cutting budgets and need the funding for community wellness more than any other time. (Check out FFJ’s divest/invest resource for funders and consider how you want to support community safety and justice.) 

Where to donate to support protestors and Black folks organizing for Black Lives in Minneapolis:

This post originally appeared on the Neighborhood Funders Group site here. Funders For Justice is a program of NFG.

Andrea Vazquez Jimenez on Removing Cops from Schools in Toronto

We believe removing law enforcement from schools is a step in the right direction to fostering a safe learning environment for young people of color. While the movement grows in the United States, it has already been implemented in Canada.

During Education Anew: Shifting Justice 2018, we had the opportunity to speak with Andrea Vasquez Jimenez of LAEN Toronto about how her organization spearheaded the movement to remove school resource officers from Toronto District Schools.

Learning Session: The Role that Trauma-Informed Interventions Play Working with Police

AFF’s learning sessions are an opportunity to highlight the work of our grantees and other leaders in the field, as well as a chance to help convene funders and practitioners to continue learning. Through these sessions, we seek to create a learning community that can help advance effective practices in service of all young people.

This first session focuses on the role that trauma-informed interventions play in the work that these particular partners do in working with police to reduce violence in communities and repair community and police relations with young people.

We are joined by Vaughn Crandall of California Partnerships for Safer Communities, Fatima Muhammad of Equal Justice USA and Pastor Mike of the PICO National Network.