American Muslims demand end to police discrimination and violence

A coalition of more than 90 American Muslim community organisations have issued a joint statement demanding that the police end discrimination and violence against Black people.

The joint statement, organised by Muslim Wellness Foundation and Muslim Advocates, brings together a vast cross-section of Muslim community organisations in support of Black Muslims, Black Lives Matter and major policing reforms amid the ongoing, nationwide protests following the murder of George Floyd and other Black victims.

“We recognize that discrimination pervades our entire justice system — from policing to trials to prisons to re-entry barriers for returning citizens — and that these demands only represent a down payment on the reforms that are needed,” stated the joint letter. “If this deep-seated discrimination cannot be done away with through reform, then these systems will need to be abolished and reimagined entirely.”

“We are bearing witness to an unprecedented and deeply transformative moment in history,” said Kameelah Mu’Min Rashad, executive director of the Muslim Wellness Foundation.

“In the midst of a global pandemic, many in the Black community are also grappling with the pain, trauma and grief brought on by the scourge of anti-Black racism and violence. Our unwavering and collective commitment to justice serves as an acknowledgement of this pain and our duty as Muslims to challenge the systemic inequities which contribute to this suffering.”

“This strong showing is another step forward in unifying our broad and diverse community in support of Black lives,” said Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates. “But the real work is in supporting the actions and policy demands that will hold the police accountable for violence.”

Here is the statement in full:

We, the undersigned American Muslim civil rights, advocacy, community and faith organizations, echo the calls being made nationwide for meaningful reforms to discriminatory law enforcement practices and violence against Black people in the United States.

Black lives matter. Yet, the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor are just the latest high-profile acts of violence against Black people at the hands of police. This disregard for Black lives is not new, it is woven into our country’s very existence and dates back centuries.

Black people are often marginalized within the broader Muslim community. And when they fall victim to police violence, non-Black Muslims are too often silent, which leads to complicity.

Evans County, Georgia police gunned down Yassin Mohamed — a Black Muslim and Sudanese-American immigrant — during a mental health crisis. His killing came after police had several encounters with Mohamed within a 24-hour period, with one requiring him to be sent to a local hospital for mental health care.

Shukri Ali Said, a 36-year-old Black Muslim woman and Somali-American immigrant who lived with bipolar disorder and schizoprenia, told her sister she was hearing voices and needed to run away. In response, her sister called 911 asking for help only for the Johns Creek Georgia police to shoot and kill Shukri. The officers were all cleared of wrongdoing by internal affairs and all are still employed as officers.

Stephon Clark, a Black Muslim and father of two children, was shot eight times by Sacramento police — three times in the back — in his grandparents’ backyard. Upon learning that the officers would face no charges, Clark’s friend Jamilia Land said “Stephon was unarmed and in no way a threat. Instead, they shot 20 times and hit Stephon at least eight times. Even then, they did not call for medical care even though he was bleeding profusely. Now the Sacramento district attorney says it’s unjust to charge these officers with Stephon’s murder. Where is Stephon’s justice?”

George Floyd

The victimization of unarmed Black Muslims has a long and troubling history. In 1962, Malcolm X described a police shooting at a Los Angeles mosque that took the life of Ronald Stokes and injured six others that sounds strikingly familiar to the stories we hear today. “None of them were armed. None of them were struggling. None of them were fighting,” Brother Malcolm said. “None of them were trying to defend themselves at all.

In 1999, New York police murdered Amadou Diallo — an unarmed Black man, a Muslim, and recent immigrant — outside of his own apartment. Police fired 41 shots at Diallo without warning and without cause. None were convicted. One of the officers involved, Kenneth Boss, had previously killed a Black man who witnesses say was unarmed and, in 2015, Boss was promoted to sergeant.

Today, we are committing to take action in support of Black-led organizations on the front lines of this work. This is our fight. We join together to call for reform to our nation’s policing practices. We demand that actions be taken to:

  • Establish a federal standard that use of force be reserved as a last resort, only when absolutely necessary, after exhausting all other reasonable options;
  • Prohibit maneuvers that restrict the flow of blood or oxygen to the brain — including neck holds, chokeholds, and similar excessive force;
  • Prohibit racial profiling, and require robust data collection on police-community encounters and law enforcement activities;
  • Eliminate government programs that provide military equipment to law enforcement;
  • Prohibit the use of no-knock warrants;
  • Lower the legal standard to make it easier for prosecutors to successfully hold law enforcement accountable;
  • Develop a national public database that would cover all police agencies which would compile the names of officers who have had their licenses revoked due to misconduct;
  • End the “qualified immunity doctrine” which prevents police from being held legally accountable when they break the law;
  • End foreign military training for law enforcement;
  • Terminate violent extremism programs and grants, and
  • Redirect police funding into community health, education, employment and housing programs.

We recognize that discrimination pervades our entire justice system — from policing to trials to prisons to re-entry barriers for returning citizens — and that these demands only represent a down payment on the reforms that are needed. If this deep-seated discrimination cannot be done away with through reform, then these systems will need to be abolished and reimagined entirely.

As American Muslims, we will draw on our diversity, our strength, and our resilience to demand these reforms because Black lives matter.

We cannot, and will not, accept anything less.

Signed,

NATIONAL ORGANISATIONS

Muslim Advocates, Co-Organizer
Muslim Wellness Foundation, Co-Organizer
America Indivisible
American Muslim Bar Association
American Muslim Community Foundation
American Muslim Empowerment Network (AMEN)
American Muslim Health Professionals (AMHP)
Association of Muslim Chaplains
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Emgage Action
Family & Youth Institute
FITNA (Feminist Islamic Troublemakers of North America)
ICNA Council for Social Justice
Imamia Medics International
Iranian Muslim Community
Islamophobia Studies Center
Justice For All
KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights
Khalil Center
Latino American Dawah Organization
Life in My Days
MUPPIES
Muslim American Society (MAS)
Muslim American Society-Public Affairs and Civic Engagement
Muslim Caucus of America
Muslim Legal Fund of America
Muslim Youth Leadership Council of Advocates for Youth
Muslims Allied for Sexual and Gender Diversity (MASGD)
Muslims for Progressive Values
National Association of Muslim Lawyers
North American Islamic Foundation Inc
Stanford Muslim Mental Health Lab
Universal Muslims Association of America
Women’s Islamic Initiative In Spirituality and Equality
Yemeni American Merchants Association
Young Leaders Institute

CALIFORNIA

Brentwood Muslim Community Center
California Muslim Women’s Collective
ICNA Council for Social Justice, California
Islamic Shura Council of Southern California
M2E2 Inc.
Masjid As-Sabur
Memon Organization of North America
MSA West
Muslim Bar Association of Southern California
Muslim Leadership Council of San Diego
San Francisco Muslim Community Center (SFMCC)
San Ramon Valley Islamic Center
UC Berkeley Muslim Student Association
Yemeni Alliance Committee

COLORADO

Colorado Muslim Society
Colorado Muslim Speakers Bureaa

CONNECTICUT

Farmington Valley American Muslim Center (FVAMC)

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Capital Area Muslim Bar Association
Muslim Institute – Interfaith Studies & Understanding

DELAWARE

Islamic Society of Delaware

FLORIDA

Friends of Humanity International
Muslim American Society of South Florida
Muslim Women’s Organization

GEORGIA

MIST Atlanta

IOWA

Darul Arqum Islamic Center

ILLINOIS

Council of Islamic Organization of Greater Chicago CIOGC
Dar-us Sunnah Masjid & Community Center
Masjid Al-Taqwa
Muslim Bar Association of Chicago
Muslim Community Center, Chicago

INDIANA

Indiana Muslim Advocacy Network
Indianapolis Muslim Community Association
Muslim Alliance of Indiana
Zainabia

KENTUCKY

ASK Center

MARYLAND

Al Hadi Learning Organization
Islamic Community Center of Potomac

MASSACHUSETTS

Muslims for Progressive Values, Boston Chapter

MICHIGAN

The Islamic Society of Greater Lansing

MINNESOTA

Sisters Need A Place

MONTANA

Billings Islamic Community

NEW JERSEY

Al-Tawheed Islamic Center
Council of Imams in New Jersey
Husayn Center for Social Justice
Masjid Muhammad Jersey City
Masjid Salahuddin
Muslim Federation of New Jersey

NEW YORK

Majlis Ash-Shura: Islamic Leadership Council of New York
Muslim Bar Association of New York
Muslim Community Network

OHIO

Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati

PUERTO RICO

Islamic Council of Puerto Rico

SOUTH DAKOTA

South Dakota Voices for Peace

TENNESSEE

American Muslim Advisory Council

TEXAS

MSA at UT Arlington
MSA Lone Star Council
SMU MSA (Southern Methodist University)

VIRGINIA

Islamic Center of Culpeper
Muslim Community Center of Chesterfield

WASHINGTON

Somali Health Board
MAPS-AMEN (American Muslim Empowerment Network)

WISCONSIN

Wisconsin Muslim Civic Alliance

WEST VIRGINIA

Islamic Center of Morgantown

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