Safe Skies Clean Water Coalition Affirms the Value of Black Lives
The Safe Skies Clean Water Coalition is outraged and horrified at the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. This tragedy is yet another manifestation of an ongoing pattern of racist violence and brutality inflicted upon our Black family members, friends and neighbors, the result of systemic racism and oppression. For too long those acts were invisible to those of us who live in privilege and comfort, but with the advent of mobile devices and social media, we as a nation are collectively bearing witness to the ongoing trauma and violence on a regular basis.
The Safe Skies Clean Water Coalition formed in 2019 to organize and amplify public resistance to a proposal by the Air National Guard to bring F-35A Joint Strike Fighter Jets to Madison. All of our members and supporters recognize the danger that these weapon systems pose to our community–to our public health, to our quality of life, and to our combined and varied efforts to build a more equitable, peaceful and less violent world for our neighborhoods, across our country, and abroad.
It is this vision of a better world that compels us to declare that we stand in solidarity with the movement to affirm the value of Black life and the effort to bring an end to the individual acts and the structural causes of racist police brutality. We will never achieve safe skies, clean water, peace and justice for all as long as members of our community do not feel safe in our shared streets, in our homes, or in our places of work or worship. We will never achieve our shared dream of a better world while so many of our neighbors are deprived of their basic human rights and dignity.
Our work has led us to understand that it is corrupt structures of illegitimate power and profit that drive decisions to place F-35 fighter jets in close proximity to low-income communities, too often disproportionately comprised of people of color. Those same structures of power and profit, faced with a myriad of long ignored social ills in our communities, can only respond with militarized police forces and yet more instances of police brutality and the curtailing of civil liberty. We see a direct relation between the militarization of the broader society and policing strategies that designate communities of color as battle zones and “enemy territory.”
We will not allow our communities to be sacrificed as staging grounds for the military to pollute, degrade, and abuse in order to wage war upon people of color abroad. Likewise, we will not allow our communities to become battlegrounds for militarized police forces to wage domestic war against lives that are devalued and degraded by the same systems of power and profit. We will work together to eradicate racism within ourselves, and to eradicate state-sanctioned brutality from all areas of our lives, whether it takes the form of environmental racism, structural economic inequality, war for profit, or over-policing and criminalization of Black lives.
The miscarriages of justice and unjustified antagonization on behalf of police forces across the country that many are now witnessing almost daily are compounded by the fact that so many of the perpetrators of this violence are seldom, if ever, held accountable for robbing individuals of their lives and dignity, and robbing our communities of their voices, hopes, dreams and contributions. These actions are not only abhorrent, but because they are committed by those entrusted as public servants, they are excused by having been done in our names, for our safety and protection, with our implied consent.
We do not consent to violence upon our community and upon Black lives. We believe in justice: those who harm others should be held accountable for their actions, as well as the consequences of their inactions. Just as we assume that individuals should be held accountable, we must hold the entire system of power and profit that perpetuates racism, police brutality, and warmongering accountable for the violence it has wreaked on human life.
The time for change and decisive action is now. A better world is possible, but only if we take bold steps and act with courage and conviction.
Therefore, in addition to our ongoing work to stop F-35 fighter jets from being based in Madison, Safe Skies Clean Water Wisconsin supports and affirms the efforts of community organizations and Black leaders who are working to curtail and end the use of state sanctioned violence against Black people.