(ATLANTA, GA, 6/4/2020) – In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. All praise and thanks belong to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. May peace, prayers, and blessings be upon Prophet Muhammad, his family, and his companions.
The Georgia Muslim community unites today to express love for, solidarity with, and commitment to the entire African-American community, especially Black families who have lost loved ones to state-sanctioned violence.
As Georgia Muslims who are Black, Hispanic, White, Arab, Asian, and every other race and ethnicity, we stand in love and solidarity with the families, friends, and communities of every Black man and woman who has been murdered by law enforcement, or whose murderer has been unjustly protected by law enforcement, which includes George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Steven Taylor, Yassin Mohamed, Shukri Ali Said, among many others.
We stand in love and solidarity with all of our brothers and sisters whose communities have been violently attacked, suppressed, and disenfranchised due to anti-Black racism.
We stand in love and solidarity with every Black person who was ever excluded, ignored, or made to feel unequal within our Muslim organizations, masajid, Islamic schools, or businesses.
We acknowledge the sharp, enduring pain being expressed on streets across our nation. This pain is the result of systematic terror, violence, and white supremacy which began with the very founding of the United States on the backs of enslaved Black men and women who were robbed of their faith, freedom, and culture, which then continued through Jim Crow and segregation, and which persists even to this day via mass incarceration and other forms of repression.
In modern America, the moral disease of white supremacy does not only impact the criminal justice system. It also manifests in socio-economic, educational, and healthcare disparities experienced by African Americans.
With these facts in mind, we believe that justice for all people in America cannot come to fruition without an unwavering and unapologetic commitment to achieving justice for Black America, including reparations for centuries of Black oppression.
As a community, we bear witness to injustice, we stand in solidarity with the oppressed, and we commit to doing more than mourning and publishing this letter.
We commit to the long-term work of reforming any system that perpetuates anti-Black racism and injustice, which includes educating ourselves, holding ourselves accountable, and addressing anti-Blackness within our own communities.
Specifically, we as Muslim community organizations, masajid, and leaders commit internally to:
- Develop deep, meaningful personal relationships with our Black neighbors and colleagues.
- Listen to, learn from, and follow the lead of Black-led community organizations, and offer our spaces and resources to uplift and center Black voices. Invest our money, expertise, time, and energy in their causes, for example with the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative or Muslim Wellness Foundation.
- Invest in spiritual community development programs led by and for Black Muslims with human and financial resources through established local organizations, such as:
- Publish public statements of support and solidarity with the Black community and families deeply impacted by police violence.
- Participate and amplify various actions condemning anti-Blackness and police brutality, including participation in the Day of Solidarity on Friday, June 5th, 2020 by delivering khutbas/sermons on the subject of anti-Black racism.
- Address anti-Blackness as a priority through ongoing political education and allyship, including: anti-racism training for organization/masjid leadership and larger communities, in-depth education on the history of Black Muslims and Black struggles in the United States, and community conversations on race and class.
- Renew efforts and be more intentional about Black representation in leadership roles within our organizations.
- Shut down any anti-Black rhetoric within our circles, and commit to educating our own peers, families, and leaders.
- Work towards reducing the need to hire local law enforcement to patrol outside Friday Prayers and Sunday School programs, and instead, follow the lead of Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam by hiring private security from within and/or training our own community members to protect our communities and our neighborhoods.
- Commit to host guest imams/khateebs from different racial and cultural communities on a regular and ongoing basis.
- Consider participating in the Majlis Ashura of Metro Atlanta in order to strengthen ties between masajid around the city across racial and cultural lines.
- Commit to reminding community members that is impermissible for Muslim-owned businesses to sell alcohol, lottery tickets, and other harmful products that play a destructive role in society.
In addition, with the support of partners and larger communities, those of us who are Muslim activists, civic leaders, and political advocates commit to:
- Take various public actions condemning anti-Blackness and police brutality, such as: signing petitions, participating in protests and rallies whenever it is safe to do so, and calling and writing to local elected officials.
- Advocate for the freedom of Imam Jamil al-Amin by highlighting new evidence of his innocence, and supporting efforts to overturn his wrongful convictions.
- Utilize our relationships with local elected leaders to push for more equitable policies and administrative procedures for local law enforcement, including:
- Abolishing bigoted police training programs like the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE), which endangers local communities by arranging for Georgia law enforcement officials to train in "urban policing" and other topics with foreign governments that engage in human rights violations, including Israel.
- Mandating implicit bias training for all existing and future police officers, administrators, support staff, and other law enforcement and law enforcement adjacent employees, including DAs, their staffs, judges, clerks, and state prosecutors.
- Establishing and supporting Civilian Review Boards for police departments.
- Commissioning the state Attorney General's office instead of local District Attorney offices to independently investigate and ultimately make the decision to prosecute an officer following the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's (GBI) initial investigation in an officer use-of-force case.
- Researching and implementing best practices on an on-going basis to reduce and ultimately eliminate police brutality through evidence-based policies.
- Lobby our state and federal elected leaders for wider reforms to address police brutality and the high rates of incarceration of our Black brothers and sisters, including:
- Creating a public "use of force" database for any officer-involved acts of violence.
- Ending cash bail to eliminate an unfair burden on the poor.
- Working towards decarceration for more restorative criminal justice reform.
- Granting appropriate accommodations and/or release for individuals being held in government detention who are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19.
- Creating streamlined procedures for cases of officer-involved violence including the appointment of independent prosecutors and increased accountability.
- Repealing O.C.G.A. § 17-7-52. This statute treats police officers accused of crimes differently than other people accused of crimes in grand jury proceedings. On balance, it makes accountability and justice more difficult when crimes have been committed by police officers in the line of duty.
- Repealing Georgia's Citizen's Arrest law, which is being used to justify the murder of Ahmaud Arbery.
- Ending qualified immunity, which shields government officials from accountability.
- Increasing funding for public defenders by statutorily requiring equitable funding on par with state prosecutors' offices.
- Supporting the passage of a hate crime bill in Georgia.
- Support the work of Believers Bailout, which is building a movement against mass incarceration amongst Muslims.
- Support the work of IMAN Atlanta, which is doing important work for community development in the inner city.
- Support the work of GA Muslim Voter Project, which is fighting disenfranchisement in our communities.
- Support the work of CAIR Georgia, which is currently working on two cases of police brutality, namely on behalf of Yassin Mohamed and Shukri Ali Said.
- Support efforts like A Just Georgia, which is working to bring justice in the case of Ahmaud Arbery and other instances of state-sanctioned violence.
These reforms are urgent, and many lives are on the line. #blacklivesmatter
The undersigned Muslim organizations and masajid: