November 18, 2018
As co-authors of the APHA policy statement on police violence, we want to take a moment to appreciate all of you - public health workers & researchers, anti-racist grassroots organizers, and communities most impacted by law enforcement violence. As a result of your work and tireless dedication, on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 the American Public Health Association (APHA) - the largest professional association for public health in the U.S. (25,000 members strong!) - adopted a policy statement that explicitly names law enforcement violence as a public health issue. It is a statement rooted in an understanding of how structural racism and institutional oppression shape population patterns of law enforcement violence and it is a statement firmly committed to a public health alternative, recommending upstream, community-based and community-led solutions. We are thrilled at the enormity of this win, and humbled by the immense and growing support for the statement. We are so grateful for all you’ve done to make this moment possible.
We are also thrilled to share that the adoption of this statement has already received attention in publications ranging from The Guardian to Rewire.News; we hope you share the statement and these articles so that it can be used as a tool in support of grassroots struggles nationally and internationally.
We see this win as a critical opportunity. It opens doors for public health practitioners of all sorts to listen to and work alongside communities most impacted by policing, to define public safety on their terms and to reclaim community control over public resources. This win galvanizes us to use a social determinants of health framework to address the structural root causes of harm. It is an opportunity for each of you to speak the truth this statement holds, that we have all crafted together, to your senators, city councils, your mayors, and public health departments.
We believe it is Public Health’s role to end racism and state-sanctioned and state-funded violence. May we continue to interrupt & dismantle stale and outdated racist ideology, speak up even when our voice shakes, reclaim our budgets, build relationships, build community-based strategies to addressing harm, divest from the carceral/policing system and build movements. Let's invest in thriving, vibrant, and healing communities!
While “Addressing Law Enforcement Violence as a Public Health Issue” was written by the End Police Violence collective, a growing group of public health researchers, teachers, graduate students, non-profit leaders, and community organizers, we are just one small piece of a mighty movement. Our description of the problem, identification of underlying issues, and proposed solutions are based on our deep connection with and guidance from grassroots organizing communities who have been engaged in movements for dignity and liberation - free from state violence - for many generations. Shout out to all the grassroots organizers proposing and implementing alternatives! Your work directly informed the approaches recommended in this statement, and its grounding in principles of health equity and community self-determination.
Over these past three years we’ve struggled together. We’ve written numerous iterations of the statement, fielded criticisms, faced staunch opposition at the APHA Annual Meeting, and been encouraged by fleeting wins. Through it all, we had your support. You rallied and marched with us, spoke in support at hearings, provided organizing and strategy advice, lobbied your APHA reps, donated, wore the End Police Violence ribbons, signed on as endorsers, and so much more. Thank you for bringing about this win!
There is so much more for us to do in this movement; but in a time when wins feel scarce, let’s revel for a moment in the celebration and ease we feel in our hearts, minds, and bodies. May this add energy and encouragement to continue organizing through advocacy, writing, and working alongside those most affected.
You can read the statement here: www.endingpoliceviolence.com. In the coming weeks, APHA will post the statement, along with others adopted this year at: apha.org/policies-and-advocacy/public-health-policy-statements. On our website, you can also keep up with popular media and scholarly articles citing the statement, and find our twitter feed.
Stay in touch with us! We would love to hear how you use the statement in your public health practice.
In solidarity and gratitude,
The End Police Violence Collective