Black gun violence prevention group calls for police reform

Black gun violence prevention group calls for police reform
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A number of high profile gun control organizations are teaming up with the Community Justice Action Fund (CJAF) to shine a light on police violence in communities of color amid the fallout over the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor

In a letter exclusively obtained by The Hill, the CJAF, an organization committed to combating gun violence in communities of color, led a letter connecting the issue of police violence with gun violence.

Everytown for Gun Safety, March for Our Lives, Brady, Giffords, Amnesty International, Sandy Hook Promise, MomsRising and the National Domestic Violence Hotline, among several others, signed the letter on Thursday.

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According to the letter, being a signatory means that these organizations believe Black Lives Matter; police violence is gun violence; public health approaches must be prioritized over policing to end gun violence; an anti-racist approach must always be a part of policy making and advocacy on gun violence prevention; and it is important to invest in community-based solutions to end gun violence.

Other organizations that signed on include Voto Latino, United We Dream, Women's March and the American Federation of Teachers. 

“The issue of gun violence many times, especially in the press, and even with white gun violence prevention organizations seems to be very singularly focused on either the person or on a gun, like who has access to guns,” said Amber Goodwin, the executive director of CJAF and the only black woman leading a gun violence prevention organization. 

“We always knew there also were deeper-rooted issues with violence, and that police violence is in fact gun violence,” she continued. 

The push comes as protests erupted across the country amid the deaths of Floyd, Taylor and other unarmed African Americans who died at the hands of police. The protests have led to a nationwide discussion on race, with many calling for police reform. 

CJAF is pushing for policies that specifically address police violence and changes to the policing system, as opposed to attaching these policies with other pieces of legislation like gun control bills that advocate to expand background checks.

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“I am demanding that the white-led organizations, and non-black organizations that may have caused harm to, whether it’s black victims of gun violence, black survivors of gun violence, to do the work to understand that harm, how it manifested,” Goodwin said. 

CJAF is the only black woman-led gun violence prevention organization and it is focused on building policies, forming a network of leaders that are impacted by gun violence, and training people on how to take action.

The organization has drawn attention from high profile celebrities like musician Lady Gaga, who listed it as an advocacy organization she is donating to on Thursday.

“We wanted to make sure that we took the time and also that we took this moment that really is about black people in this country--people seeing what we’ve gone through for decades, what we have gone through for generations, and what we have gone through in this country since we have gone through since we got here,” Goodwin said.