We the undersigned Irish people stand for the human rights of Black people in Baltimore and across the U.S.
We stand with the families and friends and all those struggling for justice for Freddie Gray, Carlos Alcis, Clinton Allen, Wendell Allen, Raymond Allen, Anthony Anderson, Alonzo Ashley, Jordan Baker, Orlando Barlow, Cedric Bartee, Ronald Beasley, Sean Bell, Alan Blueford, Rekia Boyd, Rumain Brisbon, James Brisette, Anna Brown, Michael Brown, Raheim Brown, Aaron Campbell, Miriam Carey, Kiwane Carrington, Chavis Carter, Kenneth Chamberlain, McKenzie Cochran, Erica Collins, John Crawford, Reynaldo Cuevas, Michelle Cusseaux, Jordan Davis, Shantel Davis, Amadou Diallo, Nehemiah Dillard, Patrick Dorismond, Reginald Doucet, Ervin Edwards, Sharmel Edwards, Delores Epps, DeAunta Farrow, Malcolm Ferguson, Jonathan Ferrell, Deion Fludd, Ezell Ford, Shereese Francis, Shelly Frey, Eric Garner, Henry Glover, Pearlie Golden, Ramarley Graham, Oscar Grant, Kimani Gray, Akai Gurley, LaTanya Haggerty, Mya Hall, Kenneth Harding, Darnesha Harris, Eric Harris, Yuvette Henderson, Danroy Henry, Larry Jackson, Kendra James, Ervin Jefferson, Kathryn Johnston, Aiyana Jones, Derrick Jones, Prince Jones, Charly Keunang, Manuel Loggins, Ronald Madison, Trayvon Martin, Thaddeus McCarroll, Kendrec McDade, Travares McGill, Natasha McKenna, Tyisha Miller, Earl Murray, Dante Parker, Kajieme Powell, Dante Price, Darren Rainey, Tamir Rice, Tamon Robinson, Tony Robinson, Mackala Ross, Aura Rosser, Timothy Russell, Walter Scott, Queniya Shelton, Yvette Smith, Alberta Spruill, Timothy Stansbury, Victor Steen, Timothy Thomas, Alesia Thomas, Shem Walker, Johnnie Warren, Steven Washington, Shulena Weldon, Tyrone West, Victor White, Derek Williams, Malissa Williams, Tarika Wilson, Tyree Woodson, Ousmane Zongo, and the many names we do not know but should.
We stand with all survivors of racist state and vigilante violence.
We stand with Black political prisoners who have been punished for resisting anti-blackness.
We stand for the transformation of laws, institutions, and society to bring justice to Black people. State and vigilante violence against Black people is rampant and entrenched, widespread and deep-seated. The case for justice is horrifically obvious yet pervasively dismissed and deferred.
Many of us have been participating in various actions, across the country and around the world, as individuals, human beings, socialists, anti-racists, members of social justice organizations. But now with the developments in Baltimore, an historically Irish-American city in a colony historically friendly to Irish-Catholics, with a former mayor, governor and 2016 presidential candidate who strongly self-identifies as Irish and has claimed inspiration from the Irish liberation struggle, and a self-identified Irish-American President, we feel compelled to speak out as Irish people and to encourage other Irish people to do so as well. Ní neart go cur le chéile.
To date, the silence of Irish-American organizations on the epidemic of anti-black police brutality is deafening. We reiterate Daniel O’Connell’s question to the Irish in the U.S. more than 170 years ago: “How can the generous, the charitable, the humane, the noble emotions of the Irish heart, have become extinct among you?”
We believe the time is now for Irish people to live up to their values and history. To paraphrase Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, get yourselves sorted out and stand on the right side here. #blacklivesmatter stood with Irish people at this year’s Bloody Sunday March for Justice in Derry and we must stand with them now, here, in the U.S. Not speaking and acting against these state sanctioned murders of Black people is contrary to the values of our own liberation struggle. We call on all those who are proud to be Irish to live up to the name.
Resist the racist justification of these injustices as the Irish resisted and continue to resist anti-Irish racism. Fight for Black liberation as the Irish fought and continue to fight for Irish liberation.
If you do not, the values you hold dear—freedom, equality, self-determination—will be hopelessly corrupted. As Dr. King said, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” As Daniel O’Connell said “wherever there is oppression, I hate the oppressor” (as quoted in The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass).
In writing this statement we make no claims to a particularly strong tradition of Irish solidarity with Black people, but it is written with the recognition that our histories and our freedoms are forever entwined by the events of the past 500 years.
We will not condemn the young people who are fighting anti-blackness on the streets of Baltimore and across the U.S. We will not tell Black people in the U.S. how to resist. We support resistance by any means necessary and by any means effective. We focus our attention on the violence and collusion of the state and we call on other Irish people to do the same.
We do not see our stand as simply one of moral conscience. Anti-blackness is not something which only affects ‘others’. We make this statement with the full knowledge that there are tens of thousands of Irish people of color in the U.S. who are subject to the threat of imminent violence; whose lives are not valued by a white supremacist state. We see and recognize and bleed with those Irish people of color who are fighting for their lives. We demand that those Irish people who are categorized as white support the #blacklivesmatter movement in whatever way they can. Sign this statement. Help to raise awareness. Attend a rally or march. Contribute to a bereaved family’s legal fund or protester bail funds. Invite #blacklivesmatter activists to give a talk at your local. Participate in direct action.
Now is the time for Irish people in the U.S. to answer the question discussed by our people in Derry with #blacklivesmatter founder Patrisse Cullors earlier this year: “which side of history are Irish people going to be on?” We, the undersigned Irish people—in the tradition of those Irish who acted in solidarity with Black people in the U.S. like Eleanor Butler, Edward Fitzgerald, Mary Ann McCracken, Daniel O’Connell, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, Eugene Boyle, Baltimore’s own Berrigan brothers and Mary Moylan—answer that we stand with you for justice.
Margot Backus, Houston (TX)
Jerry Boyle, Chicago (IL)
Tom Burke, Chicago (IL)
Ahmad El-Khatib, Washington (DC)
Mary El-Khatib, Springfield (VA)
Tim Hester (NJ)
Matt Horton, Berkeley (CA)
Brian Kelly, Belfast (Co. Antrim)
Rima Kharuf, Washington (DC)
Zoe Lawlor, Limerick (Co. Limerick)
Richard Reilly, Chicago (IL)
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