November 24, 2015

Dear Funders for Justice community,

Today Chicago officials released the tape of the police killing of Laquan McDonald, a year after his death. Protests have begun, and police appear to be engaged in active suppression tactics, including arrest and physical confrontation. Today on Democracy Now!, BYP100’s Charlene Carruthers explained that the city’s call for peace over Laquan McDonald does not extend to the police. While the police officer will be indicted for murder, justice is by no means guaranteed. We will share updates and ways to support as information becomes available.

And, last night five Black Lives Matter protesters were shot by a group described by victims and other witnesses as white males and possible white supremacists. We stand in solidarity with protesters in Minneapolis and across the country, and with all of you committed to supporting the grassroots organizing in demand for justice. For updates and where to donate, please check the FFJ website page in support of the protesters, the Black Lives Matter Minneapolis Facebook page, and ColorLines. If you would like help with getting in touch directly with Minneapolis organizations and grantmakers, please feel free to write to us at fundersforjustice@nfg.org.

While the shooting in Minneapolis is in itself an abhorrent act, we see it as part of escalating harassment and violence against social movements and social inclusion: in rural Oregon, activists harassed by Oath Keepers; the recent beating of a Black Lives Matters activists by Trump supporters in Alabama; and last night’s shootings in Minneapolis. We believe that these may signal a growing pattern nationally rather than a series of isolated incidents – part of a trend of attacks on social movements and marginalized communities by state and non–state actors.

Such a trend of activities are abhorrent but not surprising. What is in fact most concerning is the virtual silence by government institutions and leaders. Passengers were removed from flights on Spirit and Southwest airlines due to anti-Muslism and anti-Middle Eastern profiling by passengers, yet there is continued silence from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ). The White House has not said that it won’t tolerate hate violence targeting people of color in America. Police failed to protect Minneapolis protesters from the shooting, despite being at a precinct – and even harassed the protestors after the shooting. The failure of government agencies to take action reveals a severe lack of accountability to the people.

Further, members of the mainstream media have neglected to call out the hate violence, and in fact blamed those attacked. Media have framed the shooters of Minneapolis protesters as “counter-demonstrators”.

Funders for Justice will explore these issues and others in our upcoming call on Dec 8th. We hope you join us, and please encourage other interested funder colleagues to join by asking them to write to us at fundersforjustice@nfg.org.

Thank you all for your leadership in philanthropy across the country.

In struggle,
Eric Ward, Ford Foundation and FFJ co-chair
Molly Schultz Hafid, Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock, and FFJ co-chair
Lorraine Ramirez, NFG Program Manager – Funders for Justice