Resolution on Supporting Black Lives Matter

Date of this draft: 2016 Feb 13

WHEREAS, Unitarian Universalists strive for justice, equity and compassion in human relations; and

WHEREAS, Unitarian Universalists have a goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all; and

WHEREAS, allowing injustice to go unchallenged violates our principles; and

WHEREAS, although most police officers warrant our gratitude and respect for the dangerous work they undertake to promote public safety, law enforcement practice in the US is too often an expression and manifestation of systemic racial prejudice; and

WHEREAS, although people of all ages and races are killed by law enforcement, black people ages 20-24 are seven times more likely than the general population to be killed by law enforcement; and

WHEREAS, the 102 unarmed black people killed by police in 2015 represents 37% of all unarmed people killed by police that year; and

WHEREAS, Tanisha Anderson, Rekia Boyd, Michael Brown, Miriam Carey, Michelle Cusseaux, Shelly Frey, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin, Kayla Moore, Tamir Rice, Tony Robinson, Samuel Dubose, Sandra Bland, William Chapman, Walter Scott, Tiara Thomas are just a few names of people recently killed by the racism that exists in the United States today; and

WHEREAS, mass incarceration fueled by for-profit prisons and racially biased police practices drive the disproportionate imprisonment of black and brown Americans; and

WHEREAS, the school-to-prison pipeline is an urgent concern because 40% of students expelled from U.S. public schools are black and one out of three black men is incarcerated during his lifetime; and

WHEREAS, the 2015 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association adopted a resolution, called an Action of Immediate Witness, which cited the above facts, recognized “that the fight for civil rights and equality is as real today as it was decades ago,” and called Unitarian Universalist congregations to action:
  • to become closer to a just world community,
  • to engage in intentional learning spaces to organize for racial justice with recognition of the interconnected nature of racism coupled with systems of oppression that impact people based on class, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability and language;
  • to work toward police reform and prison abolition (which seeks to replace the current prison system with a system that is more just and equitable);
  • to take initiative in collaboration with local and national organizations fighting for racial justice against the harsh racist practices to which many black people are exposed;

WHEREAS, that same resolution of the 2015 UUA General Assembly also declared: “No matter who you are, black lives matter, and a system of fair, transformative, and restorative justice that is accountable to communities is something to which each of us has a right. Unitarian Universalists and our greater society have the power to make this happen;” and

WHEREAS, Black Lives Matter is an international activist movement, originating in the African-American community, that campaigns against violence toward black people, regularly organizes protests around the deaths of black people in killings by law enforcement officers, and broader issues of racial profiling, police brutality, and racial inequality in the United States criminal justice system; and

WHEREAS, the Black Lives Matter movement has gained powerful traction in resistance to police brutality and institutionalized racism that target the black community; and

WHEREAS, the 13 Guiding Principles of the Black Lives Matter movement, set forth at blacklivesmatter.com, are highly consonant with Unitarian Universalist values; and

WHEREAS, all lives matter, and upholding the value of all lives requires attending especially to those lives most treated as not mattering; and

WHEREAS, affirming that black lives matter challenges presumptions that they don't matter and recognizes that the disregard of black lives calls for specific attention and should not be left alone to continue; and

WHEREAS, the Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation at White Plains’ “Policy on Political and Social Advocacy” stipulates that, “A position of the [Congregation] on an Advocacy issue shall be taken only by the congregation in a vote according to the By-Laws,” and that, in the absence of such a congregational vote, neither the Congregation’s minister, nor its Board of Trustees, nor any committee, group, or individual of the Congregation may speak for, on behalf of, or in the name of the Congregation on any advocacy issue;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation of White Plains supports and is a majority-white ally of the Black Lives Matter movement and its Guiding Principles;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation authorizes expressions of that support, including but not limited to: public statements from Congregation leaders of support and advocacy for Black Lives Matter and its Guiding Principles, and the public display of a “Black Lives Matter” banner to be clearly visible to traffic on Rosedale Avenue.

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