Reckoning with historical trauma | Reimagining Justice This Month

Reimagining Justice This Month highlights stories about effective responses to violence – responses that disrupt cycles of violence, heal trauma, and address structural racism.

‘They Was Killing Black People:’ In Tulsa, one of the worst episodes of racial violence in U.S. history still haunts the city with unresolved questions, even as ‘Black Wall Street’ gentrifiesThe Washington Post
The historical trauma of slavery and lynching continues to impact entire communities and destroy lives. In Tulsa, reckoning with that historical trauma means excavating and not only acknowledging the devastation of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, but addressing unresolved questions about mass graves of Black people and repairing the ongoing harm. If justice means preventing violence and creating accountability and safety, this kind of history needs to be uncovered and recognized.

Bringing a dark chapter to light: Maryland confronts its lynching legacyThe Baltimore Sun
Our justice system is rooted in the legacy of slavery and lynching, and the impact of structural racism from police shootings to mass incarceration is felt across entire communities. Acknowledging that history, as well as both the historical trauma and present day harm of caused by the system, is essential for reimagining justice that can create equity and healing. This is how people in Maryland are making sure we remember the history of lynching so that we can transcend it. Continue Reading →

Washington State’s death penalty ruled unconstitutional

In a 9-0 ruling, the Washington State Supreme Court has declared the state’s death penalty unconstitutional. Washington is now without a death penalty and becomes the 20th state in the country to reject capital punishment.

Statement by Shari Silberstein, Executive Director of Equal Justice USA:

“The Washington State Supreme Court today declared what we have long known – that the death penalty is unconstitutional and rife with racial bias. From police violence to mass incarceration, people of color have been calling on the U.S. justice system to act and address this crisis of racism throughout our justice system. Today in Washington, they were heard. The death penalty’s stark racial disparities send a message that the lives of people of color are less valuable than others. This is not only unfair, it compromises the integrity of justice itself. The death penalty is a tool of our shameful past – and that’s where it should stay.”

Statement by Hannah Cox, National Manager of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty: 

“This decision will save Washington State taxpayers millions of dollars that would otherwise be wasted. Conservatives in Washington State and across the country increasingly realize the death penalty is a failed government program that does not value life, threatens innocent people, and wastes money.”

You can read the court’s full ruling here.

Who Has Access to Healing?

Reimagining Justice This Month highlights stories about effective responses to violence – responses that disrupt cycles of violence, heal trauma, and address structural racism.

States Set Aside Millions of Dollars for Crime Victims. But Some Gun Violence Survivors Don’t Get the Funds They Desperately Need, The Trace
Elizabeth Van Brocklin asserts that all victims – whether harmed by mass shootings or neighborhood gun violence – should receive the support they need in the wake of tragedy. She points out the lack of services for those injured in incidents of gun violence, who are disproportionately young black men. Now, Van Brocklin says, some states are beginning to improve access and funds for underserved victims.

Can Police Change Their Mindset from Warriors to Guardians?, The Crime Report
A Fordham Law School panel highlights the recurring tragedy of police-caused homicides in the U.S. One panel member contends that these tragedies should be addressed by “reengineering” police procedures and trainings in ways that encourages them to save lives, not take them.

Continue Reading →

We carry the stories with us in our fight towards justice | Reimagining Justice This Month

Reimagining Justice This Month highlights stories about effective responses to violence – responses that disrupt cycles of violence, heal trauma, and address structural racism.

In honor of National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims (Sept 25), EJUSA’s staff extend deep-filled gratitude to the hundreds of family members of murder victims we have had the privilege to work with for the last 25+ years. We honor those loved ones you’ve lost and the stories you have shared with us. We carry them with us in our fight towards justice and healing for all. Read some of the stories about our work with families of homicide victims.

“Help The Trace Report on America’s Ignored Population of Gunshot Survivors,”The Trace
As part of its efforts to report on gun violence and its survivors, The Trace has pulled together a survey to try to help determine what services survivors need and which of those services they have trouble accessing. If you are the survivor of gun violence, please take a moment to fill out this survey, or if you know someone who has survived a gunshot wound, please pass this along. Continue Reading →

Let’s build a world where violence is rare | Reimagining Justice This Month

Reimagining Justice This Month highlights stories about effective responses to violence – responses that disrupt cycles of violence, heal trauma, and address structural racism.

Vice’s in-depth Charlottesville video is a horrifying look at hatredThe Boston Globe
Our country watched white nationalists descend upon Charlottesville, VA, to deliver messages of hate and bigotry. Vice’s viral 20 minute documentary, “Charlottesville: Race and Terror,” provides an on-the-ground picture of this dark historical moment: “Vice doesn’t lose track of what really happened over the weekend — the domestic terrorism, the chants of ‘Jews will not replace us,’ the police in full gear. The piece does not skimp on the horrors, including footage of the car plowing into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. We see a black woman bowing in despair and disbelief after the crash, letting out a grief-stricken scream.” EJUSA condemns white supremacy, white nationalism, and violent extremism in all forms. We are fighting to create a world in which violence is rare, and there is racial justice and healing.

Statement Opposing the President’s Comments Encouraging Use of Force Against Members of our Community, National Juvenile Justice Network
EJUSA joined with several other justice organizations to condemn President Trump’s comments to law enforcement officers late last month, in which encouraged the use of force against community members. Continue Reading →

Community-driven, trauma-informed solutions to public safety | Reimagining Justice This Month

Reimagining Justice This Month highlights stories about effective responses to violence – responses that disrupt cycles of violence, heal trauma, and address structural racism.

Race, History, Policing: A New Vision of Public Safety Conference, National Network for Safe Communities
This video features EJUSA’s Trauma Advocacy Program Director Fatimah Loren Muhammad on a panel talking about community-driven, trauma-informed solutions to public safety. The biennial conference brought together over 300 public safety stakeholders, national organizations, academics, and community groups to talk about advancements in the field.

Blueprint for a New NewarkThe New York Times
This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Newark Rebellion, in which the police killing of a black cab driver ignited a city to fight for freedom from oppression and divestment. In this op-ed piece, Ryan Haygood, President of the NJ Institute for Social Justice and a collaborator of EJUSA, highlights this historical trauma and opportunities to create new police/community relationships today. EJUSA is proud to support the Newark community in forging these new relationships. Continue Reading →

Racist hate mail a reminder of the death penalty’s true colors

Last month, an African American prosecutor in central Florida received an especially disturbing piece of hate mail: a racist note and a noose.

The prosecutor, State Attorney Aramis Ayala, made national news earlier this year when she announced she would not seek the death penalty in future cases. Her constituents broadly supported the decision, and a grassroots movement sprang up in support. But Florida’s Governor Rick Scott made the reactionary decision to transfer all her death penalty eligible cases to a neighboring prosecutor.

The specter of a white Governor stripping the state’s first black States Attorney of almost two-dozen cases for exercising her lawful discretion was discomfiting enough. But that battle is now buried in a thicket of legal arguments.

Lest the courtroom drama obscure the obvious racial implications of the entire saga, a noose in the mail brings them back into stark relief.

A noose is not just a threat; it’s a symbol of lynchings – which themselves were precursors to the modern death penalty.

Continue Reading →

Civil rights leaders weigh-in against scheduled executions in Arkansas

Mona delivering sign-on lettersLocal and national civil rights and racial justice leaders signed a letter to Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, calling on him to halt the series of executions scheduled in the coming weeks. EJUSA Campaign Strategist Mona Cadena was on hand at the Capitol to deliver the letter (left), which outlined the concerns the group has with the death penalty’s racial bias and its disproportionate effect on communities of color.

“Racial bias in the criminal justice system, including the death penalty and its application, is undisputed,” the letter says. “From slavery to Jim Crow to the present day, the death penalty has long been a tool of injustice and discrimination in the USA and the State of Arkansas.”
Continue Reading →

Black lawmakers call for repeal of death penalty

NBCSL ConferenceAfrican American State Legislators Cite Disproportionate Sentencing

The National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) has passed its first-ever resolution supporting repeal of the death penalty in the United States. The historic vote took place during the NBCSL 40th Annual Legislative Conference in New Orleans, LA. It is an escalation of the organization’s previous call for a moratorium in 2002.

“As a Nebraska state senator, I proudly voted to strike the death penalty from our state statutes in 2015. I was just as proud to sponsor the recent NBCSL resolution that calls for an end to the death penalty across the country,” said Nebraska State Senator Tanya Cook. “This sentence is not a deterrent to violent crime. Period. That fact has been scientifically-demonstrated over and over again in this country and around the globe.”

Continue Reading →

New resource: Fact sheet on Latinos and the death penalty

Latinos and the Death PenaltyLatinos are disproportionately affected by the criminal justice and face a higher risk of wrongful conviction than their white counterparts. Increasingly, Latinos in the United States are skeptical of the death penalty, and community leaders and national organizations are calling for its end.

We are excited to publish a new resource with detailed information about Latinos and the death penalty. The resource is available in both English and Spanish and can be found on our learn pages. You can also download a formatted version (in Spanish too!) to hand out at your next death penalty discussion or while you’re tabling.