Center on Halsted is outraged to hear of the murder of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who was killed by police officers while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25, 2020. We are also devastated by the loss of Tony McDade, a 38-year-old Black trans man who was killed by police in Tallahassee, Florida on May 27, 2020. Our hearts are heavy in memory of these names and others — Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery — and we shudder to think of how many names we do not know, how many lives have been robbed by white violence.
Floyd was choked to death by the knee of a police officer, while handcuffed, after being accused of a nonviolent crime. McDade had recently reported being the survivor of an attack by five men, which he attributed to racism and transphobia. Still, he was shot and killed in a police confrontation. Taylor was in her home. Unfortunately, the circumstances of these deaths are not at all unfamiliar; black folx have been killed for wearing hoodies, for whistling, for selling cigarettes, for taking a jog. In Chicago alone, activists and concerned citizens have demanded justice for the murders of Laquan MacDonald and Rekia Boyd, two black lives stolen by Chicago police officers. Black people are at substantially higher risk of being maimed or murdered at the hands of law enforcement, and this isn’t only anecdotal, but supported by research out of Rutgers University. We know that LGBTQ+ members of the black community are moreover targeted by anti-queer, anti-trans violence. An NCAVP report states that 56% of LGBTQ+ people who died by violence in 2017 identified as black. These numbers are saddening, but they don’t serve to illustrate the full scope of the generational, recurring, ceaseless trauma of the black community at large. Will Smith recently said racism isn’t getting worse, it is getting filmed. We are only beginning to see this violence because it is being frequently shared on social media platforms.
So we will use our platform as the Center to lift up every black life, to exalt each name in the hope that we can offer some solace to all folx feeling fear, anxiety, anger, hopelessness. We hold a fervently anti-racist stance against white supremacy and anti-black racism as a community center that serves a diverse LGBTQ+ population. White supremacy is the bedrock of our society. Systemic and institutional violence against black lives must be actively uprooted, and we all share a responsibility to protest injustice. We stand in solidarity and partnership with Chicago organizations such as Brave Space Alliance and Affinity Community Services who speak to the specific concerns for black communities and LGBTQIA+ communities, as well as those who demand accountability for police brutality such as the Chicago Torture Justice Center and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability.
We know it can be hard to read these reports of violence and death. We know that, in particular, black people can experience a form of trauma by continually seeing, hearing, and living in fear of harm. If you need support in these difficult times, you can reach out to the Anti-Violence Project at Center on Halsted.
The Anti-Violence Project at Center on Halsted empowers LGBTQ communities and allies to be free from all forms of violence and their effects through free counseling, resource linkage, advocacy, education, and community engagement. If you or someone you know are currently feeling unsafe, targeted, or isolated, we can help. The Anti-Violence Project team can be reached by calling 773–871-CARE and emailing email@example.com.