ReThink Energy Florida published this statement, titled Environmental Justice and Black Lives Matter, in June 2020, following the death of George Floyd.
Internationally, statewide, and locally, communities are reaching a tipping point with regard to social justice and human rights. With alarming and sobering speed, environmental challenges have increased over the last few decades, exacerbating worldwide issues of human and civil rights. With those environmental issues almost universally affecting the poor and disenfranchised more frequently and intensely than their rich and powerful counterparts, it is no wonder that globally, oppressed and marginalized people, increasingly squeezed between the cumulative negative effects of environmental degradation and state-supported and/or sanctioned oppression, are resisting.
Recent events highlighting police brutality have resulted in a wave of protests across the country. We at ReThink Energy Florida stand in solidarity with those demonstrators and protesters exclaiming that Black Lives Matter and demanding change. Every single day, Black people are subjected to higher levels of policing and excessive force, ending in loss of life over 3x more than any other racial demographic. We recognize that the healthier, more sustainable environment we strive for in our mission must not include such violence. And the more we reach out to our leaders to demand change on the disproportionate impacts to our vulnerable communities by both environmental impacts and systematic racism, the sooner we will make lasting change that benefits the world.
We cannot ignore the disproportionate impacts of ongoing ecological abuse on the lives of the most vulnerable members of our community. We view the disenfranchisement, implicit and explicit bias, manufactured poverty, health disparities, political disempowerment, over-policing, lack of opportunity and access, and state-sanctioned violence as part and parcel to the functioning of institutional racism. It has become clear that the abuse of power of the state and local governments along with continued environmental degradation combine to form a vise grip of oppression threatening the safety, sustainability, and resilience of our entire community. Furthermore, we cannot expect that our elected public servants would consider those most vulnerable during the transition to renewable energy if they don’t consider and take action to protect those most vulnerable from police brutality.
With this in mind, we call on our allies and friends to join us in taking a stand against systemic racism wherever it shows up in our society. We encourage representatives at all levels of government to consider research-based approaches to addressing these longstanding issues.
Finally, we submit that addressing both environmental issues and issues of police accountability will serve to eventually alleviate some of the major obstacles to living free that far too many Black communities face. We must work diligently and unrelentingly not only to balance the scales but the foundation on which those scales were built. Opening doors of opportunity in the present without addressing the unfair disadvantages of the past is and would continue to be an intellectually dishonest response to a centuries-old problem. We instead demand a true commitment to making substantial and sustainable changes to the systems that impact the survival of both people and the planet.