February is Black History Month in honor of all Black people from all periods of U.S. history - from the early 17th century to the present day. The purpose is to celebrate the achievements and contributions of Black Americans - our relatives in the BIack, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) community.
It has become increasingly difficult to focus on the many achievements and contributions of the Black community that should be celebrated during this time due to the ongoing racial injustice of police brutality.
Recently, the BIPOC community suffered another inhumane crime in the senseless killing of a young black man - a new father and beloved son. On January 7, five police officers ruthlessly beat and killed 29-year-old Tyre Nichols during a traffic stop. Not only was he beaten, he was deprived of immediate medical care, but eventually transported to hospital where he later died.
Sadly, this tragedy is not unusual. Over the past ten years, members of the BIPOC community were three times (3x) as likely to be killed by a police officer than white people.
- 7.26 killings per 1 M population in the Black community.
- 7.24 killings per 1 M population in the Native American community.
- 2.64 killings per 1 M population in the White community.
Last year, US law enforcement killed at least 1,192 people and 98.1 percent of those officers were not charged with a crime. That's more than three people per day and nearly 100 people every month. Black people were 26% of those killed by police despite being only 13% of the population. Even more disturbing is that most killings by police begin with a traffic stop or routine mental health checks, disturbances and non-violent offenses where no crime was alleged.
StrongHearts stands with our relatives in the Black community to demand that America take the steps necessary to eliminate unchecked police brutality and institutionalize the accountability necessary to protect all citizens regardless of race. Only then can we get back to the true purpose of Black History month and leave our history of police brutality behind.
“No other ethnic group in America endures this type of blatant disregard for human life,” said CEO Lori Jump, StrongHearts Native Helpline. “There is a risk - a very real danger for people of color when calling for help. When our relatives can't depend on law enforcement to render aid instead of police brutality - our people suffer.”
Jump concluded: “It's important to remember that our people have a greater need for help and that our work matters. We tie our advocacy to our culture and traditions - our medicine because that is our way. We understand that what works for the dominant society, does not work for us.”