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Statement on the Kenosha Police Shooting and the WNBA and NBA Strike

NEW YORK (August 27, 2020) - “We applaud the WNBA and NBA players for their courage and leadership in going on strike to protest the police shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin this past weekend. They inspired additional leagues like MLB, MLS and others to take action. Four years since Colin Kaepernick took a knee, Black athletes are once again using their power to demand change.

On Sunday, Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back in front of his three children. It’s a miracle that he survived. Our hearts go out to Jacob Blake and his family. We pray for their healing and recovery from not only the physical act of violence which has left him paralyzed, but also the emotional trauma - one that is all too familiar for Black families. Their lives will never be the same.

Jacob Blake is only the latest in a continuous thread of state-sanctioned violence against Black communities. At the demonstrations over his shooting this week, there has been clashing with law enforcement and two additional killings by a 17-year old white supremacist armed with an assault rifle, who - in stark contrast to Jacob Blake - was peaceably taken into police custody.

Today, we renew our call to defund the police and invest in community safety. We demand accountability from the Kenosha police department. In Jacob Blake’s sister Letetra Widman’s powerful words, “when you say the name Jacob Blake, make sure you say human.”

The Milwaukee Bucks’ bold act of protest demonstrated the power of withholding Black labor - and this is just the beginning. We stand in solidarity with all who strike for Black lives. “Our power is in our ability to make things unworkable. The only weapon we have is our bodies, and we need to tuck them in places so wheels don’t turn,” civil rights hero Bayard Rustin once said.

We must address and heal the festering wounds of racism and systemic oppression which continue to destroy Black families and communities. We will keep fighting until Black lives are valued as human and until all Black people are free.”

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