Statement from Omega Psi Phi on Nation Wide Protests
May 30, 2020
A few weeks ago, the social media team of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. created a very powerful video wishing a Happy Mothers’ Day to the mothers of Emmett Till (deceased), Tamir Rice, Botham Shem Jean, E.J. Bradford, Jr., Sandra Bland, Darius Tarver, Jonathan Ferrell, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Walter Scott (deceased), Brandon Webber, Amadou Diallo, Terence Crutcher, Michael Brown, Jr., Jordan Davis, Antwon Rose II, Aiyana Jones, Miles Hall, Dontre Hamilton, Jamarion Robinson, Renisha McBride, Alton Sterling (aunt), Stephon Clark, Wendell Allen, Ryan Twyman, Terrance Franklin, Trayvon Martin, Laquan McDonald, Sean Bell, John Crawford III, Philando Castile, Oscar Grant, Jimmy Atchison, Atatiana Jefferson (deceased), Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
These women lost children to unspeakable tragedy.
Although his mother died two years ago, George Floyd called out to his mother as he lay dying.
The tragic, infuriating, and systematically violent events over the past several weeks in Georgia, Kentucky, and Minnesota are unacceptable and even considered unthinkable and unimaginable by some.
However, actor Will Smith has said, “racism is not getting worse, it’s getting filmed.” The mayor of Petal, Mississippi looked at the same video we looked at and stated “the police officers are getting crucified.” He said, “I didn’t see anything unreasonable. If you can say you can’t breathe, you’re breathing.”
It is hard to fathom that this is 2020 because we continue to see the lives of black people in America considered insignificant and disposable — as if this were 1820 or 1920. The only difference today is these cowardly and murderous acts were captured on cell phone video, flashed across social media, and seen around the world.
That evidence may be among our best hopes for lasting, real change.
We are pleased that the expected and overdue criminal charges have been filed against some, but we won’t be satisfied until they are filed against all. We urge prosecutors and the legal system to aggressively pursue a just and swift resolution in these homicides. We demand the video from the body cam and cameras from the police cars be immediately released. We demand a safe space for the community to peacefully express their disdain and condemnation of the actions of officers involved in Floyd’s murder. We demand a town hall with community leaders, the chief of police, city council, and the mayor to discuss racial inequities and the violent uprising as a response by the community.
We call on the chief of police to work with the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis to revise the police bill of rights and the district attorney to swiftly address the misconduct of the other officers involved and those officers witnessing the misconduct who chose not to intervene. We urge the city to adopt a community policing model that practices de-escalation without the use of force, both physically or with a firearm, and a model that improves the relationship between law enforcement and the community.
We demand justice for Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man who was gunned down after being pursued by armed white men in Georgia.
We demand justice for Breonna Taylor who was fatally shot by police in her own home in March in Kentucky.
We demand justice for George Floyd, a handcuffed and unarmed black man who had an officer choke the life out of him for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. This perverse use of a police officer’s knee as a lethal weapon on the neck of Floyd – as we all watched in horror – initiated over an alleged counterfeit $20 bill.
Brothers of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. from around the world have expressed their anger. They are beyond sick and tired.
We have spoken about this before, written about this before, prayed about this before, marched about this before, rallied about this before, sought justice about this before – and yet, here we find ourselves again. We must continue to speak out against racism, prejudice, and injustice. We must continue to pray because God is with us. He will never leave us, forsake us, forget about us, or turn His back on us.
The United States Constitution protects the right of the people to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. You can participate in peaceful, lawful, and civil forms of demonstrations and protests such as rallies, marches, and assemblies, including partnering with other organizations according to the laws and directives within your respective communities, such as curfews.
Also, do so in accordance with the guidelines from the United States Attorney General and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) given during this pandemic, including practicing social distancing and wearing face masks.
We will partner with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the nation’s foremost, largest, and most widely recognized civil rights organization to fight injustice in our communities. We will use the anger we feel today to fuel us to vote in November. I am currently working with the presidents of the other fraternities on an initiative that will be launched July 1, 2020 called Black Men Vote. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that in the 2018 midterm elections, only 47% of black men voted. This initiative seeks to add one million black male voters to the election rolls before the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
Omega men, when duty demanded, stood on the vanguard many times before, arms locked with like-minded souls in the struggle for equality — or even our very right to live. That is part of our calling to the cardinal principles of Manhood and Uplift. It must be done smartly and strategically but it must be done. We will not sit quietly by and ignore dog whistle politics.
Omega’s sons, as the leaders in our communities, are well prepared to complete all moral responsibilities. As the NAACP put it in a hashtag, #WeAreDoneDying.
God bless Omega, God bless the families of the victims of these terrible crimes, and God especially heals our angrily divided and hurting nation.
Dr. David Marion
41st Grand Basileus
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
Photo Credits: Michael B. Thomas / Getty Images, John Lamparski/NurPhoto/Getty Images
Taylor family/AFP via Getty Images, Family of Ahmaud Arbery, Offices of Ben Crump/Family of George Floyd
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