For Immediate Release:
Friday, June 5, 2020
Lee Francis | Deputy Director
Virginia League of Conservation Voters
(804) 225-1902 | firstname.lastname@example.org
RICHMOND – The killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis last week has set off demonstrations and protests around the country and here in Virginia, raising the attention of the persisting problems of racism and injustice in America.
In response to last week’s events, and the many, many that have come before it, Virginia LCV and the Virginia LCV Education Fund issued the following joint statement:
The events of the last few weeks in Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota and across this country have made it clear that until Black lives matter, we will never live up to the ideals put forth in our Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, that are supposed to apply to all, not just some of us. The killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd are just three of the most recent names on a list of millions lost to centuries of systemic racism and racial violence against Black and brown people.
COVID-19, the growing unemployment in this country, racial violence and the climate crisis are making it all too brutally clear how communities of color in America fear for their lives and wellbeing every single day. We see the trauma this creates in our friends, colleagues and partners. We feel pain and outrage. We must transform our pain, our guilt, and our outrage into action.
The environmental movement, our organization included, has failed over its history to truly be a movement that represented all Americans. Our movement has often ignored and enabled systems of racism and exclusion – how our communities grow, access to public amenities, the impact of pollution on disadvantaged communities, access to nature and natural spaces, and the prioritization of resources, just to name a few. And just as importantly, we have not worked hard enough, sometimes not even tried, to racially diversify our institutions – from tokenizing our partnerships to the racial makeup of our donors and boards, staff, volunteers, and membership. These two facts have perpetuated one another throughout the years, and only recently has intentional work begun to change this truth.
We at Virginia LCV and the Virginia LCV Education Fund acknowledge our failings and commit to holding ourselves accountable to the hard work necessary to advance a more just and equitable environmental movement in Virginia. If we are to be good stewards and protectors of our earth, and advocates for its protection, then we have a responsibility to each other to fight for racial justice.
We cannot ignore the “urgency of now” and the need to act considering the events of the last few weeks. Virginia LCV and the Virginia LCV Education Fund stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter advocates as they peacefully protest the injustice of Black people at the hands of police and within our criminal justice system. We recognize that until these issues are addressed, some of our neighbors cannot safely enjoy a jog in the street, a stroll in the park, or ensure their safety in their own homes. As such, we will:
- Continue to fight to address our climate crisis prioritizing the impacts on communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities.
- Continue raising the voices of citizens of color in Virginia by expanding access to the ballot box, fighting for a stronger, healthier, and more just democracy, and ensuring every eligible voter in the Commonwealth is registered to vote and shows up.
- Work to create a conservation voters movement that includes and reflects the priorities of communities of color and recognizes the long-time environmental leadership of Black, indigenous and people of color.
- Devote resources to identifying and rooting out discrimination within our movement and within our communities.
- Commit to fighting for intersectional environmental justice, which includes acknowledging the racial, economic, and social inequities that compound environmental injustices for people of color, particularly Black, Brown and indigenous communities.
- And, most importantly, listen to and follow the guidance of our partners and the groups who are on the frontlines of the fight for social justice and against racism in all its forms.
We implore you to join us and to support our partners on the front-line who are leading the fight in our communities today. Here are a few organizations we believe are deserving and in need of your support: