Open Communities Alliance’s statement on the Killing of George Floyd and Ensuing Protests
George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. David McAtee. Tragically and appallingly, the list goes on – and on. Recent murders have garnered national attention and inspired uprisings throughout the country, but the murder and personal violations of Black people are not new. They are an outgrowth of our racist systems of slavery, Jim Crow, government-spawned segregation, mass incarceration, and so much more. This is not new, but it is intolerable. Open Communities Alliance (OCA) joins many other civil rights organizations in condemning the continuing onslaught of violence, injustice, and inequity battering Black people.
Coming out of these and so many other tragic incidents – and particularly in the midst of a severe health and economic crisis that disproportionately harms Blacks and Latinos – OCA’s commitment to our core work of fighting the systemic effects of segregation on people of color and society as a whole, and its underlying causes, is as vigilant and aggressive as ever. The times and our clients deserve nothing less.
With renewed vigor and critical examination of the role of economic and white privilege in society and in ourselves, OCA will continue to document and address the systemic levers that perpetuate segregation, disinvestment, and disparate treatment of Blacks. We must also expand our efforts to organize throughout Connecticut, with a targeted focus on the majority white, resource-rich communities in our state. The separateness of so many towns and neighborhoods – many of them affluent, exclusionary suburbs – too often breeds apathy, complicity, and fear of change that prevents Connecticut from becoming safe, healthy, and economically sustainable for everyone. We call on Connecticut state and local officials, and all Connecticut residents, to break down the exclusionary zoning, inequitable distribution of subsidized housing funds and community investments, and other structural barriers to real integration in this state.
A core component of our mission is to open housing choices for low-income, Black families in thriving towns and neighborhoods that have been unavailable due to the legacy of segregation and current government policies. When we succeed, we must be prepared to address the next set of challenges, including ensuring that new communities, from their schools to their police departments, foster a safe and welcoming environment. OCA is committed to meeting these challenges to ensure that integration works for all families.
We also recognize that moving to a disproportionately white resource-rich community with a mix of incomes is by no means the preferred choice for all Black families in high poverty areas. We must intensify and expand our efforts to support partners working toward equitable revitalization of disinvested communities of color. All communities should be resource-rich - and safe.
As a first step, while we are not experts in systemic police violence and mass incarceration, we plan to lift up those partners who are leading on these issues now and to engage with police departments in the towns where our clients relocate. Consider exploring the work and recommendations of these organizations:
We also encourage everyone to continue to learn about the Black Lives Matter movement and the effects of racism, police brutality, mass incarceration, and what you can do about them with these and other resources.
Second, we acknowledge that OCA needs to be proactive about listening, reflecting on our work, and being accountable to the communities we serve. We must amplify the voices and perspectives of the Black people on our staff, on our Board, and in our Coalition, and also continue to find external partners through Black, Indigenous, and people of color-led organizations that are willing to hold us accountable.
Finally, we echo the call to action for predominantly white communities to organize themselves in support of racially just policies. We call on our Coalition members, partner organizations and all Connecticut residents to step up and start engaging with their neighborhoods – and across racial lines – around the issues of police brutality, racism, and segregation.
Join our Coalition, stay in touch, get involved, do the work.
Open Communities Alliance Board and Staff