Statement from the Coalition on recent events and gun violence prevention
Updated: Mar 23
Dear colleagues, allies, and friends,
We, like all of you, are angered and shaken by the events of the past few weeks. The recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and the racially driven assault on Christian Cooper have further exposed deeply entrenched systemic inequities, causing additional pain to communities of color already profoundly impacted by the crisis of COVID-19. The Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence is dedicated to violence prevention that is grounded in public health and safety and informed by our almost 100 member organizations. We are committed to doing our work through the lens of racial and economic equity. For those reasons, it is of utmost importance that we raise our voices to acknowledge the pain caused by these traumatic events and call out the structural racism and oppression that drive them. It is also critical that we express the actions we plan to take to address these issues.
There are so many factors that have contributed to recent events: police brutality, the use of guns to threaten, harm, and kill people of color, and the weaponization of race itself. We must address police-involved killings as a part of the work of gun violence prevention, understanding that for black men, the risk of being killed by a police officer is 2.5 times higher than that of a white man. We know that police officers are not a monolithic entity, and come with different levels of understanding and commitment to racial justice. We have seen many instances of police officers and leaders marching in solidarity with protestors in their communities. And still we must also confront the systemic issues within law enforcement that recent deaths have laid bare. Black people experience too much gun violence, and violence as a whole, at the hands of police officers. We are committed to coalition building, challenging those inequities, and finding solutions to change that narrative.
Now, for action steps. A key aspect of our work is to support primary prevention and the efforts of our member organizations. Many of those organizations are doing the work of violence prevention, intervention, and trauma response in communities most impacted by violence, and have been doing so even throughout the crisis of COVID-19. Their work is critical, especially now. We are committed to advocating for those programs to ensure they have the resources they need to reach young people who have experienced high rates of violence. These organizations provide youth and young adults with access to job training, educational resources, mentoring, and trauma support, among other things. Ultimately, these essential programs restore access to opportunity - access too often denied to them as a result the structural racism and economic disparity that are root causes of violence. Our work is to be in coalition with those programs and the communities they serve to rectify that.
Our mission is to create a world where all of us can live free from the trauma of gun violence in all its forms: community based violence, police involved killings, or weaponized hate. We look forward to partnering with all of you, to having difficult conversations, and to working in coalition to create safety and equity for us all.
Ruth Zakarin, Executive Director
Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence
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