Cliff Albright and LaTosha Brown, co-founders of Black Voters Matter Fund, issued the following statement in response to the crisis unfolding in Kenosha, Wisconsin:

“Kenosha, Wisconsin is in crisis. It has been five days since a police officer shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, in front of his young children, and the tragedy in Kenosha continues to unfold. Mr. Blake, who has been paralyzed from the attack, is now handcuffed to a hospital bed in critical condition. The protestors bravely demanding justice for Mr. Blake have been arrested, tear-gassed, and beaten by local police. And as activists gathered peacefully to protect and affirm Black lives, an armed white-supremacist-vigilante opened fire on protestors, killing two people and injuring a third, and then marched past police and off the premises without so much as a scratch. 

“The message to Black Americans is clear: our leaders continue to view us as disposable. 

“Right now, we are not just fighting for new laws and policies; we are fighting for our very lives. Week after week, news headlines reveal a fresh horror for Black Americans as more of our brothers and sisters are killed by racial violence. But even as elected leaders condemn violence and make appeals to public safety, they have consistently failed to take actions and drive policy changes needed to protect Black lives. 

“Ending systemic violence will take more than lofty rhetoric and supportive posts and tweets. Our leaders must embrace real, tangible policy fixes — like the BREATHE Act, which would reimagine policing in America — to usher in the changes we desperately need right now.

“We are nearing a critical election where police brutality, racial violence, and other issues affecting Black voters are at the top of the ballot. Now, more than ever, we must vote like our lives depend on it — because they do. 

“But even voting is not a quick fix; we’ll need to employ a combination of strategies and tactics to build and use Black power. We must look to the examples of the NBA and WNBA players, who are using their platform to send a powerful message of solidarity with the victims and survivors of violence. In the next two months, we must do everything we can within our communities to root out white supremacy, hold leaders accountable, and protect Black lives.”