WASHINGTON, DC – In response to nationwide protests and escalatory police violence and political rhetoric, Truman President and CEO Jenna Ben-Yehuda issued the following statement:
“Our nation is convulsing in pain and grief and anger. Black people are not safe from police violence and this long history of violence and justice denied has brought us to this conflagration. The murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor before him are proving to be the latest sparks that have set the fire fully ablaze. The many others who were unarmed and died at the hands of police and white supremacists prior to these latest incidents have not seen their killers brought to justice.
"The video that has emerged is harrowing in its blatant inhumanity. The officer seemed unphased as he rested with hands in his pockets and his knee on the neck of a black man begging for his life while his colleagues looked on. George Floyd repeated a simple phrase that we’ve heard before, and illustrates the reality of simply existing as a black person in America: “I can’t breathe.” The protests that have spread like wildfire across the country are the cries for justice that have been ignored for decades, for lifetimes.
"Many of us watched that wildfire spread across our nation last night as we huddled under curfew laws in our own cities and protested peacefully in our own streets. We are watching police across the country escalate violence with assaults on unarmed protestors. We are watching police assault and arrest journalists. Our own president has threatened violence against the American people.
"The U.S. spends more on its national defense than the next eight countries combined, but we’d be hard-pressed to say that most Americans feel safe or protected right now. One thing we know is clear: racism is a threat to our national security. This threat manifests itself at home and on the world stage in many ways: There are strong signs that white supremacists are stoking flames online and in our streets; Russia is working to stoke racial tensions to influence our election; the military appears to have been put on alert for possible deployment raising questions regarding its legality; surveillance technology has been used to quell protests in echoes of global social movements; widespread disinformation and misinformation heightens mistrust and feeds on existing divisions; and we are witnessing an ever-deepening authoritarian response from the White House.
"These realities are devastating to our image abroad and our ability both to project power and to convene it. The G7’s postponement prompted by the refusal of Chancellor Merkel to come to Washington is a powerful metaphor for what has been severed. How can we demand other countries embrace values we have forsaken so dramatically at home?
"Truman will continue to coordinate action nationwide to shape the debate, fight for policy changes, and support leaders who share our values that represent the contributions of all Americans. We must come together in pursuit of justice, peace, and security at home to ensure effective global engagement abroad.”