Jewish leaders arrested in NYC while protesting that #BlackLivesMatter
Courtesy of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JREFJ), video via activist Micah Weiss:
Late at night on December 4, 27 people, including four rabbis, were arrested following an Upper West Side protest in which demonstrators blocked traffic on 96th street. The protest was organized by Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) in responses to the growing national outrage over the systemic lack of accountability for the killing and discriminatory and abusive targeting of people of color by the police. New Yorkers demonstrated last night as part of a national movement with five key demands to ensure#ThisStopsToday:
1) Full accountability for all officers responsible for Eric Garner’s death, and all officers who brutalize and abuse their power in our communities.
2) An end to NYPD’s discriminatory “broken windows” policing.
3) A fair and thorough Department of Justice investigation into the use of force policies and practices of the NYPD and full investigation into the killing of Eric Garner.
4) Governor Cuomo should veto Law S7801/A9853, so the police are not the only ones responsible for policing themselves.
5) Passage of the Right to Know Act, common-sense City Council legislation to improve daily interactions between the NYPD and New Yorkers.
The following are statements from demonstrators immediately after they were released from jail:
Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers President: “When a situation isn’t just, we must speak out. That’s what Jewish leaders did last night. In the case of Eric Garner, it is hard to reconcile the evidence we see in the video and the coroner’s report with the grand jury decision. More than this one case, though, we need to transform this nation so that every life is deeply respected and valued. I am proud I could stand with rabbis in making that statement last night.”
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah: I’m really proud to have been with other Jews making a statement that black lives matter. Justice is at the heart of my Judaism.
Marjorie Dove Kent, Executive Director of JFREJ: “As Jews, we prayed with our bodies tonight. This is what our Judaism looks like. We will take this prayer with us as we continue to fight for real accountability against excessive and deadly force by police. The struggle for justice did not start tonight, and it won’t end tonight.”
Rabbi Jill Jacobs, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call to Human Rights: “As Jews, we believe that every human being is a creation in the image of God. We must then protest when the people charged with protecting us see some of our lives as dispensable.”
Cynthia Greenberg, President of Kolot Chayeinu: “I felt like it’s the responsibility of all New Yorkers to stand up to take action and say this can’t continue. I was really proud of the Jewish community. I felt really honored to have such a big showing from the Jewish community and say not in my name, we won’t tolerate this. It felt like a privilege to take this stand because a lot of people can’t. The spirit of everyone in the jail was completely elevated – not a shred of regret or anyone being dissuaded from taking action. There’s was a lot of solidarity and insistence that we have to keep fighting for the city we all deserve. It was really powerful to be sitting in the street and saying Kaddish – it felt like an honor and an obligation.”
Laura Wernick, JFREJ member: “It’s both incredibly personal – I’m doing this because I’m really scared it’s going to be my son and it’s really hard to see all these men and boys of color targeted. It feels deeply personal because I know that my son will likely be a target. I’m scared for him and I’m scared for all the other young men in particular. I want him to see me doing whatever I can to keep him safe. When I think about safety I think about his sense of dignity, sense of self. Walking through the streets with my community yelling black lives matter was amazing – feeling that my community was here. In the jail cell I sat with my eyes closed with the mourners Kaddish running through my head. I felt my community there with me.”