350+ LGBTQ Groups Demand Transformational Change in Policing

"The time for structural change and transformation is now."

More than 350 LGBTQ advocacy groups have co-signed a letter from HRC demanding significant changes to America's police system.

The lengthy open letter advocates for a handful of structural changes to policing in the United States, including demilitarizing law enforcement, ending qualified immunity, taking certain responsibilities away from police, and shifting public funding "from police to reinvesting in our communities":

Crime is often a symptom of scarcity and our frayed social safety net is sorely underfunded. The U.S. spends twice as much on policing, prisons, and courts as it does on direct welfare programs such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and supplemental social security. Congress, states, and local governments can reduce incidents of crime and create healthy communities by investing in direct assistance programs, affordable housing, education, mental health services, substance abuse treatment, and early intervention programs (including violence interruption programs).

Notably, it stops short of demanding that police be abolished—a decades-old rally cry and ethos reignited by some activists in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Tony McDade, and Breonna Taylor, all Black people recently killed by police. Defunding police and abolishing police are two separate movements that shouldn't be conflated.

Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2020/05/29: A participant holding a sign reading Abolish The Police at the protest outside the Barclays Center. Hundreds of protesters made their way toward Barclays Center in Brooklyn to demonstrate against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd's death while in police custody in Minneapolis. (Photo by Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The letter comes after weeks of protests against systemic racism and police brutality across the country—including this weekend's Brooklyn Liberation march for Black trans lives in New York City, which attracted a massive crowd of more than 15,000 demonstrators. It also comes on the heels of the back-to-back deaths of Riah Milton in Liberty Township, Ohio, and Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, both Black trans women who were murdered last week.

"When celebrating Pride Month this June, we must remember that the protests and riots from Compton’s Cafeteria to Stonewall were sparked by Black and Latinx transgender women calling for police reform due to harassment and mistreatment of LGBTQ people," the letter concludes. "We commemorate the history of the LGBTQ Movement, namely our resistance to police harassment and brutality across the nation, when such violence was common and expected."

Signatories include GLAAD, GMHC, the National Black Justice Coalition, and Lambda Legal, among others.

In a media statement, HRC president Alphonso David said the time for structural change "is now."

"Every day the racial violence that has filled our television, computer and phone screens is a stark reminder of how far we still must go to ensure that the promise of America is not dependent on the color of one’s skin," David added. "From Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Stephon Clark, Freddie Gray, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Mya Hall, Tony McDade, Rayshard Brooks, and many more who were gone too soon—we are united to change the systems that target our Black and Brown siblings."

For the letter's full text and a complete list of signatories, click here.

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