June 5, 2020 – Treatment Action Group (TAG) joins partners, activists, and communities around the U.S. and the world in decrying violence against Black people and those who stand in solidarity with them. Police brutality and anti-Black violence in our nation is, tragically, nothing new. However, the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Nina Pop, and Ahmaud Arbery, alongside a pandemic that has taken the lives of many Black people, continue to reveal the bones of a deeply racist and inequitable society. Racism and inequity also underlie myriad unacceptable forms of structural violence that lead to the disproportionate impact of HIV, COVID-19, and other health conditions on Black communities and other communities of color.
We and our partners catalyze change to achieve not just an end to HIV, hepatitis C, and tuberculosis, and now COVID-19, but also a more just, healthy, equitable, and joyful world. We are heartbroken that our cities and country are so far from this vision. The current belligerent occupant of the White House has cruelly promised military action against demonstrators, yet failed to mobilize federal support for the manufacture or distribution of COVID-19 related resources and meet the urgent social and health needs of vulnerable populations.
Rather than elevate the voices of oppressed communities, sirens and helicopters attempt to drown out protesters. Increasingly brutal crackdowns on grassroots demonstrations show that policymakers around the nation appear to value the preservation of property and restoration of “order”—however unjust or perverse that order has been—over the protection of Black lives and the right to gather and demand change. Locally, New York City spends nearly $6 billion annually on the Police Department. The NYPD has 53,841 employees—the second-most of any City agency; over 40% higher than the number of Health and Hospitals Corporation personnel (the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is not even among the top five). These massive strongholds of taxpayer money make it blindingly clear just how much policymakers value so-called “law and order” and policing of vulnerable communities over the health and well-being of Black people and other people of color.
Meaningful and radical change is needed. Black Lives Matter.
Among other actions, with our partners, TAG is calling for change to end racism and over-policing, as they are not only injustices but public health crises. Many of our staff are participating in grassroots protests. We encourage you, if you are able, to help by contributing to bail funds, contacting state and federal legislators, standing up for Black Lives and connecting to organizers wherever you are. In support of the demands of protesters, we also call on local, state, and federal policymakers here in New York City, in Washington D.C., and across the U.S. to:
- Ensure the safety and rights of protestors mobilizing in the streets calling for change and an end to violence against Black people;
- Cease all curfews, arrests, and incarceration of protestors around the nation. This is imperative in order to limit exposure to COVID-19;
- Establish commissions on restorative justice, healing, reconciliation and reparations for Black communities at the local, state, and national levels;
- Defund and demilitarize the police; shift resources to prioritize the health and well-being of Black people in this time of a pandemic and beyond;
- End qualified immunity afforded to police to ensure accountability and swift legal recourse for Black people whose lives and families have been upended by police brutality;
- Pass policies that decriminalize sex work, root out transphobia, target white supremacy, and end the war on drugs and on people who use drugs;
- Fund federal stimulus bills that exclusively resource underserved Black communities, target health disparities, and support Black-owned businesses;
- Expand, not restrict, our right to vote and determine who represents Black and other vulnerable communities in positions of power; install Black leadership at all levels of government.
In grief and indignation, we call on leaders at the local, state, and federal levels to end violence and racism, and protect the lives of Black people. These changes are possible and require brave and honest vision from our representatives in government of what a healthy and just society can look like. We believe change is possible in America, and it must start with making Black Lives Matter across every realm of civic life.
Please stay safe, take care of yourself and others, and take action as you are able to. See you in the streets. A luta continua.
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About TAG: Treatment Action Group (TAG) is an independent, activist and community-based research and policy think tank fighting for better treatment, prevention, a vaccine, and a cure for HIV, tuberculosis, and hepatitis C virus. TAG works to ensure that all people with HIV, TB, and HCV receive lifesaving treatment, care, and information. We are science-based treatment activists working to expand and accelerate vital research and effective community engagement with research and policy institutions.
TAG pays respect to the Lenape people as the traditional owners and rightful residents of the land on which TAG’s office is located.