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#BlackLivesMatter. #UnitedWeFight.

Saturday, a group of ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ activists protested at a Seattle public event to celebrate decades of Social Security and Medicare. Our affiliate organization, Washington Community Action Network! was a cosponsor of the event. The event featured U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders. Sen. Sanders was unable to speak to the crowd because of the protest.

The issues of Social Security, Medicare and racist police violence are issues that are very important to us, our organizations and our grassroots members. It should be noted that other speakers earlier in the event spoke about the urgency and importance of the #BlackLivesMatter movement on the eve of the one year anniversary of the killing of ‪#‎MikeBrown‬ in‪#‎Ferguson‬, MO.

We understand why some rally participants were frustrated not to hear Sen. Sanders as planned, but we are very disturbed that some in the crowd demanded that protestors be arrested and heckled during the short moment of silence for Mike Brown.

As long as the killing of black people remains a crisis in this country activists will demand that #BlackLivesMatter be front and center on the national agenda. And it should be. But we also believe that there are other important and pressing issues facing working people and communities of color. We think there is room for conversations on all these issues and more in Congress, along the Presidential campaign trail, in statehouses and in the public debate.

The candidates will all have to improve their response to the crisis of police violence and mass incarceration, and all of us will have to learn to work together, broaden our understanding of issues — even those that don’t directly effect us — and deepen our sense of solidarity. Sometimes that means making room for issues that aren’t our personal priority. Sometimes that means being uncomfortable.

That’s why it is so appropriate that organizers in Ferguson this weekend are using the slogan ‪#‎UnitedWeFight‬. It will take a united fight to change police practices in this country, as well as to expand Medicaid, defend Social Security and Medicare and win a better world for all.

AJS Statement on Charleston S.C. Shootings

The Alliance for a Just Society joins the world in mourning the brutal deaths of nine people murdered in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, SC this week. We have in our thoughts and prayers the families and lives of Reverend Clementa Pinckney, Daniel L. Simmons, Ethel Lee Lance, Myra Thompson, Rev. Depayne Middleton Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Cynthia Hurd, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton.

We may not have known them, but we name them, and vow never to forget the personal victims of racist violence and their stories.

We are appalled by the racist violence and terror. We are angry that more than 50 years since Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. last spoke in that same church that we are still unable to face racism in our country.

Racism dehumanizes and abuses people of color and reinforces vast inequality, while protecting those with power and privilege. Violence, terror and fear are essential pillars of racism – whether it’s the official violence at the hands of the police and military; vigilante violence by the mob, or the action of a “lone gunman.”

But there is no lone gunman. Anyone who has a hand in allowing racism to thrive in any corner of our society, in our homes, our living rooms or taught to our children, has to acknowledge that it must end now. We don’t need any more wake up calls. We have awoken.

The lost lives of the nine men and women, moms, dads, sisters, uncles, grandparents, brothers, children, friends, teachers, and all that they were and meant, cannot simply be mourned… they must be a catalyst for change – and we must be that change.

Today is the 150th Anniversary of Juneteenth Day, the first celebration of the end of slavery. Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled that Texas can forbid people from putting the Confederate Flag on their state license plates, and yet, many Southern states still fly confederate flags. Our country still struggles to acknowledge that #BlackLivesMatter.

We believe that “no one is free until we are all free.” We’re still not free.