By Gabriel McMorland
EDITORS’ NOTE: THE THOMAS MERTON CENTER BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND EX- ECUTIVES RELEASED THIS STATEMENT TO ITS MEMBERSHIP ON JUNE 25, 2020.
The outrage at a white supremacist system that is fueling protests across the country must be kept at the forefront of our work for social justice. We are in the same fight: for a world where all people have the freedom to move, to be in public space without fear or threat. Together we must shift public funds away from harmful over-policing of Black and Brown communities and towards social investments that build racial equity and climate resilience.
While the world is struggling through a global pandemic that exposes the vast disparities in health, well being and economic security be- tween Black and Brown America and White America. The murder of George Floyd, which was preceded by the murders of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Tony McDade in Florida, and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, further illustrates the devastating impact racism and violence have on Black People in America in 2020.
We are witnessing an unprecedented organic uprising of millions of people outraged by the in- herent injustice in our white supremacist society. The Thomas Merton Center is a pacifist organization, committed to social change through non-violent direct action. We believe that mobilizing millions of Americans’ outrage over the continued killing of Black and Brown people and the inherent injustice of our society is the only way to make social change.
Most people reading this statement are surely fa- miliar with the words of Martin Luther King Jr.:
I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America post- pones justice, we stand in the po- sition of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.
What we have seen in Pittsburgh and throughout the county is an explosion of years of pent up anger at the murder and brutalization of black people, Antwon Rose II, Jonny Gammage, Michael Ellerbe, who were all murdered by local police, and the numerous people like Jordan Miles, and Leon Ford who, although they survived, have had their lives forever changed by police violence. Police violence has been compounded by the inhumanity of American Capitalism; during a pandemic, tens, if not hundreds of millions of people have lost their jobs, and with those jobs, health care. People just want to survive.
The property destruction and “theft” that we are seeing across America pales in comparison to the violence inherent in our white supremacist capitalist system. At the same time we have seen over and over again the Police attacking peaceful demonstrators, the media, and people who just happen to be in the vicinity of the protests. This has resulted in people defending themselves, and an escalation in police violence.
The chant “Who Did This, The Police Did This” correctly identifies who is ultimately responsible.
AT TMC, we know that peace comes only through justice, not from violent attempts to silence people demanding the right to live.
Gabriel McMorland is the Executive Director of the Thomas Merton Center.
The Thomas Merton Center was founded in 1972 as
a non-profit grassroots organization whose mission
is to educate, raise awareness and to ask the moral questions that surround issues of social justice, poverty, workers’ rights, racial discrimination, environmental and economic justice, peace and nonviolence.
NewPeople Newspaper VOL. 50 No. 5. July/August, 2020. All rights reserved.