By John Barnes, Executive Director, Funders Concerned About AIDS (FCAA)HIV is a crime in 32 US states and 72 countries around the world. Ironically, the only defense against many of these laws is not knowing your HIV status. Most people with HIV are unaware of their level of vulnerability to criminal charges, and, due to a lack of funding to address these challenges, combatting HIV criminalization is not high on many advocates agendas. A key theme in recent HIV-related philanthropy addressing criminalization includes advocacy and capacity building for impacted populations.
Sanctuary as a concept must evolve and be expanded. It can be a call that unites broad swaths of institutions and civil society if it is based in the belief that collective protection should extend to all communities facing criminalization and persecution and defend against all the agencies that threaten us.
Funders for LGBTQ Issues released an infographic that highlights these issues and explores how funders are addressing criminalization and criminal justice reform.
This special collection includes research from nonprofits, foundations, and university based research centers, who have not only described and documented the issue but who also provide much-needed recommendations for addressing this chronic and tragic problem.
Of course, changing police policies is not a panacea to police violence against Black girls, women and gender nonconforming people. In order to to strike at the root of the issue, we need to transform our responses to poverty, violence and mental health crises in ways that center the safety and humanity of Black women and our communities. Still, taking action in these seven areas would go a long way to reducing harm while we work toward deeper systemic change.
The rally, organized by Communities United for Police Reform, was attended by the families of victims of NYPD violence, such as Ramarley Graham, Mohamed Bah, and Anthony Baez, as well as local politicians, community groups (like Make the Road, the Arab American Association of New York, Picture the Homeless and the Anti-Violence Project) and many young people who had experienced stop-and-frisk policing first hand.
In New York City, San Francisco, Denver, Dallas, Los Angeles, and many smaller cities, the impact of failed housing policies that do not provide affordable living options for residents go back decades. But instead of correcting these policies, local authorities have empowered police departments to pursue strategies of homeless removals, sometimes in conjunction with Business Improvement Districts and other civic groups.
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. 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. The failure of government agencies to take action reveals a severe lack of accountability to the people.