In the midst of the Chauvin trial, which is adding trauma to communities still mourning the death of George Floyd, our hearts break once again at the news of another police killing of a Black man. MAVA member ACLU Minnesota said it best: “Police making traffic stops and performing custodial arrests for low-level infractions and misdemeanors, which disproportionately target people of color, are dangerous, racist, and unnecessary practices that do not aid public safety. Instead, these practices result in predictable violence and death for Black men like Daunte Wright. This requires change on the local, state, and national levels.”
MAVA is an organization that promotes community engagement and volunteerism so we are further outraged that when community members, who gathered to grieve this despicable police behavior and the death of a precious human being, are met with police escalation, tear gas and flash bangs. We question why community members who share their voices in protest, are punished with a curfew and the infiltration of the National Guard.
We applaud those who exercise their personal democracy by demanding a system of public safety that doesn’t kill Black people, that holds police officers accountable, and is proven to prevent violence. Furthermore, the nonprofit community needs to examine the role that we play in perpetuating the cycle of oppression and violence. What do we need to change in the way we operate, the way we seek funding, our criteria for who volunteers at our organizations? How do we, as leaders of volunteers, keep people at bay or keep people down? Are we rooted in our communities? Or, are we separate from our communities? What can we change, so that our community can change?
It is MAVA’s responsibility to lead conversations about how these racist tragedies impact community engagement and volunteerism. The marchers, protesters and grassroots social justice groups are all volunteers. We invite all who volunteer or engage with volunteers to join MAVA as we educate and make changes as we work to understand how these tragedies impact people of color.*
We want to share some of the voices of staff and board members. We hope to hear your voices as well when we gather this Thursday April 15th at 11:30 am. (See below)*
Hear our Voices:
“While still healing from the George Floyd murder and hoping for justice, Daunte Wright’s murder feels like opening an unhealed wound, only to start the healing process from the very beginning. I cannot begin to express the complications of my mixed emotions at this very moment in time—anger, loss, grief, frustration, confusion, hurt, pain, helplessness, and just plain TIRED.”
“Black people have experienced police brutality for a long time and we fear interaction with police and it's heartbreaking that even during the trial of the murder of George Floyd, another black life can be snatched away by the police.”
“Sad, sick, enraged that we seem stuck in a place where the value of a life is seen as subjective and not absolute. Scared about the continual cost of this trauma, and so many similar ones to Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian communities and others who are made to feel that their humanity does not matter and their right to exist is in question. I don't know what the way forward is or could be right now.”
“Devastated that this continues to happen to our family, friends, neighbors and co-workers.”
“Outrage, frustration, sorrow and looking for a way to be part of the solution. We need to stop rationalizing racism. It is our collective responsibility to respond and change the future for our community. Daunte's son will grow up knowing that his father was killed by a police officer for no reason whatsoever. He will always fear the police. We cannot expect BIPOC community members to fix a problem created by white society. It is our duty to step up and step out so that everyone feels safe in our community."
“The sadness is overwhelming. My son is Daunte's age. My heart aches for his mother. He called her when he got pulled over because he was scared. I can't imagine how that haunts her. I can't imagine the level of pain she feels knowing that the last call she had from her son was just before he was killed by authorities for no reason at all. How can this keep happening? When will it end? How can we stop the violence?”
“Another police shooting of a Black man and the related protests in several areas of our community overnight make the struggle painfully clear. Black members of our community face circumstances that put their lives at risk every day. This must stop, but will only end when each of us accepts that we all have a role to play in building a more equitable, safe, and welcoming community.”
“Daunte Wright’s death, occurring during the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, compounds the trauma so many members of our community are feeling. We hear and understand that people are exhausted, and that it is difficult to remain hopeful in the face of these events.”
“The curfew? Why is it that the police make a mistake, and we are punished for it? The police again have no accountability, and the public pays for it. The National Guard in your neighborhood? I don’t want to see the National Guard in the streets of my neighborhood. This tactic promotes fear and unrest, not a feeling of safety and protection”.
“The senseless killing of BIPOC community members? These senseless killings must stop. We continue to unmask the things that have been going on in BIPOC communities for ages. The system is doing what it was designed to do, and we must change that system of policing in our communities. The world now has witnessed our systematic prejudices. We must realize what we are seeing before our eyes has a history.”
“How does this keep happening at the hands of police who are supposed to be our protectors? We can hold individual cops accountable, that’s a beginning. But it’s the system and the culture that needs to change and we are all accountable for that. We must raise our voices! Sitting in our homes, in our offices, in our cars and thinking about how horrible it is not enough. We must raise our voices! MAVA’s mission is to positively impact communities and MAVA is a voice to say this is horrific and outrageous and must stop. We must raise our voices! When will the trauma end? When will change come? The black community never gets time to heal, we just get the same wound opened. When will our lives matter?”
* Please join MAVA on Thursday, April 15 from 11:30am-1:30pm (Central Time): MAVA Connections: Working to Hold Space for BIPOC Staff and Volunteers – Open to ALL MAVA members. This is a free facilitated conversation on how volunteer engagement leaders - both Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) leaders and White allies - can hold space for BIPOC staff and volunteers at our organizations and in our work.
The past few weeks have brought the start of Derek Chauvin's murder trial, the Atlanta-area murders of eight people including six women of Asian descent and an increase in hate crimes against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. We recognize that these events add stress, fear and anger to the already-heavy load carried by our BIPOC colleagues and volunteers. It's important that we create opportunities and hold space for BIPOC staff and volunteers to grieve, rest, heal and get the individualized support they need. Let's talk about how to make this happen, how to lead these efforts, what it might look like and how we can work together to ensure that essential healing and community-building are - and continue to be - a priority at our organizations and in our work. Advanced registration is required. After you register, you'll receive an automated confirmation email with the Zoom link. Please note that because MAVA Connections is a member benefit, you must log in to your member account to register.