We, the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, pause in sorrow to speak the names and mourn the loss of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, D’Quan Young, Jeffery Price, Marqueese Alston, Terrence Sterling, Alonzo Smith, Ralphael Briscoe, and all those whose names we don’t know, but who have been killed by violence from racist institutions and systems.

We pledge to honor the lives of those lost to the violence of police brutality and redouble our efforts to more deeply understand and combat the inherent racial and economic violence that has always existed within policies, practices, and institutions at the national and local levels, and work to forge a more just and inclusive DC. Redlining, environmental racism, racially restrictive covenants, and other historic housing, zoning, and labor laws are among the causes of the violence of exclusion, displacement, adverse health impacts, and over-policing of Black communities, as well as our nation’s tremendous racial wealth and income gap. We pledge to fight the racist ideologies and institutions that have caused Black residents to be disproportionately represented among DC’s homeless population and, most recently, disproportionately represented among those who have lost their lives due to COVID-19.

The Legal Clinic stands with those throughout the country and in our community who are demanding change and striving to dismantle systems through which white supremacy runs deep – systems that have allowed white people to build up wealth and privilege while inflicting poverty, pain, and even death upon Black people in the United States and internationally. We stand with those who demand more than performative alliance and urge concrete changes that hold Mayor Bowser to her declaration that Black lives matter. DC must divest from the MPD and other institutions, programs, and agencies that perpetuate racism and continue to harm Black DC residents. We join the voices of those calling for DC to expand its concept of public safety by significantly investing in all of the critical community needs and resources that prioritize equity and provide real protection and holistic support to Black people, including safe and deeply affordable housing. Additionally, we aim to continue to listen to and amplify the voices of DC’s Black community, fully capable and rightfully intent on determining how to best protect, honor, and sustain Black lives.

True justice requires a disruption and deconstruction of systemic racism. True peace cannot exist in the absence of justice. Until this city and country begin to acknowledge, confront, and actively dismantle the racist institutions that have so drastically impacted Black existence, justice and peace remain elusive.

Black lives matter.