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Applauding Chauvin Verdict, PA Stands Up Demands Officials End Violent Policing, Reimagine Public Safety

April 20, 2021

PA Stands Up issued the following statement from Ashleigh Strange, lead organizer at Lehigh Valley Stands Up, following the jury’s finding police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all 3 counts for the murder of George Floyd last summer:

“Today’s verdict provides a small measure of accountability for George Floyd’s family and yet it cannot reunite George Floyd with his mother and loved ones, after having his life brutally stolen from him by former officer Derek Chauvin. Indeed, the verdict is an indictment of the entire system of violent policing that routinely murders Black and brown people.

“Last summer, millions of Americans, including Pennsylvanians from towns big and small all across the state, stepped up to proclaim that Black Lives Matter. We demanded a society where all people are free to live and thrive. Today’s verdict comes in part because of our demand for justice, the largest sustained set of social justice demonstrations in our nation’s history.

“Our work, today, is far from over. We are more committed than ever to continue standing up and speaking out to demand accountability for police murders, including the murder of Christian Hall in the Poconos in December, and other police murders in PA over the last six months: Ricardo Munoz in Lancaster, Walter Wallace Jr. in Philadelphia, Stephen Hughes in Berks County. We are demanding that Attorney General Josh Shapiro immediately take over investigation of the murder of Christian Hall and Stephen Hughes -- and that the officers responsible for those murders be held accountable.

“We know that justice calls on us to completely reimagine public safety by moving funding away from policing and toward the things that communities need to thrive, like good paying jobs, quality schools and affordable housing. And we are calling on political leaders at every level to enact our restorative justice agenda. Here in Allentown that means working to replace cops with community care in our schools and in the streets. In Philadelphia, activists are calling on the city council to divest from violent policing and invest in violence prevention, housing, mental health services, and more.

“Around the state, community leaders and our elected allies are demanding the repeal Act 111 in order to give power to local communities to hold police departments and violent officers accountable. At the national level, we are working with allies in Congress to pass the BREATHE Act, which would divest from brutal and discriminatory policing and invest in a new vision of public safety.

“Again and again and again, we see our people brutally murdered by police and by white supremacy. Today’s verdict, however, speaks to the possibility of change. Now is the time to join together to reimagine public safety and build a society where Black people, and all people, are free to live and thrive.”

To interview Ashleigh Strange, or learn more about the work that PA Stands Up chapters are doing to reimagine public safety and end violent policing, contact us here.