May 31, 2020
Once again, the lethal reality of systemic racism has shown its evil face. The rabbis of the Central Conference of American Rabbis are horrified by the murders of George Floyd this past week and Ahmaud Arbery three months earlier, heartbreaking deaths which add further to the already long list of extra-judicial executions of African-Americans in our country. The appalling actions and images we have witnessed, of deadly police brutality in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and homicidal armed civilians in Brunswick, Georgia, are shocking, though tragically unsurprising. Racist extra-judicial executions are an American epidemic, a blight that has continued because, time and again, perpetrators have not been brought to justice. In the wake of these latest murders, CCAR members add our voices to all those throughout the nation in demanding that the individuals responsible for these heinous crimes be brought to justice, and also that the policies and systems which have led to few (if any) consequences in the vast majority of prior instances finally be addressed.
In our 2015 Resolution on Racial Justice, the CCAR called for the reforming of police practices through the following actions:
- Acknowledging and honoring the difficult yet vital work done by police every day;
- Demanding a higher level of accountability of local police departments regarding their use of lethal force by:
- Permitting and requiring the U.S. Attorney General to obtain accurate data about every individual who dies in police custody;
- Establishing the office of independent District Attorneys who bring cases seeking indictment of potential police misconduct before Grand Juries;
- Encouraging the current work by the U.S. Department of Justice to collaborate with communities on reforming police department policies, training, and supervision to address issues of racial injustice and limiting police violence.
Today, Reform rabbis vehemently, and with even greater urgency, renew these demands. Further, we invite all Americans to join us in demonstrating our solidarity with Black Americans by :
- Reaching out to African-American friends who are in pain, frightened, or angry to offer support and to demonstrate our enduring presence;
- Patronizing Black-owned businesses;
- Supporting community efforts and organizations that work to empower African-Americans; and
- Learning how to be an anti-racist and joining efforts to change policies that perpetuate systemic racism.
The CCAR mourns the loss of the lives of Mr. Arbery and Mr. Floyd, who were tragically taken, and we grieve with the mourners. We stand in solidarity with communities that are peacefully protesting these murders, and we implore, despite the understandable and justified frustration and anger, that the vandalism, looting, and rioting end. We seek solidarity with good, noble, anti-racist law enforcement officials whose good names have been tarnished by these horrific crimes. And we commit ourselves anew to working to bring closer the day when the policies and systems governing the citizens of our nation treat every person equally—both in theory and in reality—regardless of the color of their skin. May that day come soon.
Rabbi Ronald Segal
Rabbi Hara Person
Chief Executive, Central Conference of American Rabbis
 Adapted from suggestions by Rabbi Wendi Geffen, Senior Rabbi, North Shore Congregation Israel, Glencoe, Illinois.