The Jewish Community Alliance of Northeastern Pennsylvania decries the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Video recordings clearly show that Mr. Floyd, an African-American 46-year-old, was subjected to shocking brutality despite the fact that he was handcuffed and subdued. His repeated pleas for help and the obvious distress he suffered were captured on video for all to see. His cries for help were ignored while the arresting police officer continued to press his knee into Mr. Floyd’s neck.
The JCA stands in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the African American community. We add our voices to those demanding that justice be served swiftly and surely in this case through a thorough investigation. Tragic incidents like the one that appears to have transpired should never happen in a free and democratic society.
We also call on people of all races, ethnic backgrounds, and faiths to speak up now against the poisonous persistence of racism that is truly the shame of our nation. The words of our ancient Hebrew Scriptures cry out to us: “Justice, Justice shall you pursue!” The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis comes in the wake of a string of similar incidents and long-standing systemic injustices. Too often, race proves to be a determining factor in the health and well-being of Black Americans. Right now, Black Americans are dying of coronavirus at a rate higher than any other racial group.
Racism in America—just like the rising tide of antisemitism in the nation—is a virus that spreads with passivity. As bystanders, if we are not speaking out against bigotry and prejudice, we are part of the problem. Defeating it requires a united and diverse effort; we must see ourselves in the marginalization of the other, and we must act against it as if we were the ones targeted. As Jews, we know personally and painfully the dangers of unchecked hatred, particularly when it infiltrates systems and is harbored by those in power.
The effort to combat injustice and intolerance requires all of us. The consequences for not doing so are also universal—as hate knows no one color or creed. Not only are liberty and justice at stake in America, but the welfare of humanity stands in the balance. There is no room in our society for any form of hatred.
Gary Bernstein, CEO