CPR Will Stand with Those Who Cannot Breathe

Matt Shudtz
David Flores
Matthew Freeman
James Goodwin
Brian Gumm
Catherine Jones
Darya Minovi
Katlyn Schmitt
Katie Tracy
Robert Verchick
Robert Glicksman
Alice Kaswan
Thomas McGarity
Joel Mintz
Sidney Shapiro
Amy Sinden

June 1, 2020

Staff and Board members of the Center for Progressive Reform (CPR) denounce the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on Memorial Day. We stand with the peaceful protestors calling for radical, systemic reforms to root out racism from our society and all levels of our governing institutions and the policies they administer.

CPR Member Scholars and staff are dedicated to listening to and working alongside Black communities and non-Black people of color to call out racism and injustice and demand immediate and long-lasting change. Racism and bigotry cannot continue in the United States if our nation is to live up to its creed of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.

CPR's vision is thriving communities and a resilient planet. That ideal animates all of our work, but systemic sources of inequality and injustice stand as massive barriers to the realization of that vision. To do our part to tear down those barriers, we're engaging in a deliberate effort to engage collaboratively with the communities most affected by the policies at the heart of our work.

As an institution, our primary tools for change are communication and collaboration. Our communication involves not just speaking, but listening, particularly to people affected by pollution, workplace and product safety hazards, and more. Our collaboration is increasingly aimed at empowering voices that are too often silenced. Like many other organizations, we are currently undergoing an intensive process to ensure that justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion are part of our organizational DNA. We are committed to constant institutional improvement – to recognizing our privilege and using it to promote a more just and equitable society.

The recent murder of George Floyd gives new urgency to CPR's work. The fact that this murder is just the latest in a long history of deaths of African Americans at the hands of government officials who have escaped with little, if any, public accountability only reinforces the magnitude of the challenges we at CPR face in doing our part to address systemic racism in our society. We condemn Floyd's murder in the strongest possible terms. But we also accept that we must do more.

The simple fact is too many people of color in this country can't breathe. Sometimes it's because they have a cop kneeling on their neck; sometimes it's because through our laws and other institutions, we as a society have concentrated them in "sacrifice zones" whose residents are assaulted daily with toxic air and water while they are denied access to needed health care. The weight of this reality has never been clearer than during a pandemic of a respiratory virus that's more likely to kill people who breathe dirty air daily. The two are connected, even if that connection is ignored by our nation's leaders.

Top image by Flickr user Victoria Pickering, used under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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