"As a white Jewish American who has benefitted my entire life from white privilege, one of the things I can do right now is to protest the treatment of people of color for whom there is NO privilege. Sure, I can donate money, read books, watch films and documentaries, and take classes, yet none of those things will bring back Breonna Taylor, George Floyd or any of the many victims of police violence in our nation. That is why I am here today. By being here at this place, at this moment, I am showing physically that I want to End White Silence.
For three and a half years, Bend the Arc Jewish Action in Champaign-Urbana has been asking elected officials to open their eyes to the violence being visited upon our brown Latinx community— children in cages and deportations of hard-working members of our community. We have begged them—“treat your neighbor as yourself.”
Long before now, we should have also demanded that our legislators, city officials, and all people in places of authority open their eyes to what our black neighbors face every day—the daily potential for state-sanctioned violence that our elected officials and people in places of authority have, either explicitly or implicitly, condoned towards our black community members. Once again, we beseech you—“treat your neighbor as yourself.” More importantly, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
As Jews, we cannot sit idly by and watch with horror as police officers use excessive and sometimes deadly force on our black neighbors. The color of a person’s skin should not dictate how one gets treated in Minneapolis, let alone in Champaign-Urbana. And yet, as we have seen with our own eyes, it does.
To be silent is to be complicit. I, for one, refuse to be silent anymore. I refuse to be complicit by turning a blind eye any longer to the injustice that has been so invisible to us as privileged white people. And so, we say: "No more chokeholds. No more kneeholds. No more life-threatening violence towards our black neighbors for minor infractions like walking away or questioning authority."
Stop blaming victims of police brutality for their own treatment at the hands of those who have been trained to subdue people with violent, harmful, painful, and deadly submission techniques.
Require that police be trained in de-escalation tactics. Require them to treat the black community the same way they treat the white community. Re-prioritize your budget away from police in order to put more money towards mental health resources, sexual assault survivor resources, mediation, housing, food accessibility, and education.
Do all of this in the name of justice and righteousness.
May it be so."