The Section Assembly of the American Anthropological Association is outraged by the failure of the Ferguson and Staten Island grand juries to indict the police officers who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner, and the dismissal of the case against the officer who killed 7 year old Aiyana Jones. In the hundred days since the murder of Michael Brown, police have also murdered 12 year old Tamir Rice, Ezell Ford, Darien Hunt, Aura Rain Rosser, Tanisha Anderson, Roshad McIntosh, Akai Gurley, Vonderitt Myers, and Rumain Brisbon, among others – all unarmed. These incidents reflect a blatant disregard for the value and dignity of their lives and the communities in which they live. These events are representative of a broader U.S. history of systematic anti-black violence, dating back to the enslavement, lynch laws, and the prison-industrial complex that affects black children, men, women and gender queer people.
As members of an academic discipline with the distinctive history of establishing the language and “science” of race, which has been used to justify settler colonialism and slavery, we understand the roots of this state violence. While U.S. ideologies hold that we are all equal under the law, this has never been the case, and in fact inequality has been structured into the justice system from the start, and is currently escalating via the militarization of local police forces.
To this end, we want the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association to: 1) make a formal statement condemning these activities and structural conditions, 2) create a Task Force to explore issues related to racialized police brutality and extra-judicial violence; and 3) call on the U.S Justice Department to review the use of force by police and to make a commitment to working for the eradication of racism and racialized state violence.