Kawana Lloyd, PICO National Network, Blacklivesmatter. klloyd@piconetwork.org


Faith leaders with the PICO National Network’s Live Free campaign released the following statement in response to the first presidential debate of the 2016 election cycle after GOP Debate briefly brought up #BlackLivesMatter:  

This Thursday night’s presidential debate was a major disappointment for its failure to properly and respectfully acknowledge the aggressive and violent police practices resulting in the deaths of hundreds of young men and women killed by law enforcement over the past year.

This very week one year ago, communities of color grappled with and mourned the deaths of John Crawford III, killed in Ohio last August 6, and Michael Brown, killed on August 9, in the neighboring state of Missouri.  As our nation looks back on the last year, the intelligent thing for presidential candidates to do would have been to offer a reflective response to the pain Americans are feeling.

Presidential candidates had a national stage last night to address some urgent, must-resolve domestic issues, but instead, they ignored our nation’s rogue criminal justice system and disregarded flourishing unaccountable police forces, and terrorized families.

Every single day, black and brown communities—millions of Americans and millions of faith voters—are forced to deal with racially unjust systems that result in persistent trauma at the hands of police, and now physical and psychological terror.  At a time when American families are having complex conversations about racism and racial healing, all presidential candidates need to voice their stance on the current system of mass criminalization and present solutions. Any unwillingness to do this is a mistake when they should be focused on helping America be better so that all God’s creation is treated with fairness and dignity.

Regardless of political affiliation or background, 2016 presidential candidates need to talk about the inter-connected policies that have created the current system of mass criminalization. 

Any debates that include America’s domestic policies should include ending aggressive police practices, sentencing reform, shifting public resources away from incarceration to education, as well as banning the box so formerly incarcerated returning citizens can find stable work and doing away with the federal quota that requires locking up 34,000 immigrants every day.

Justice requires action and God requires justice. As faith voters, we are determined to stand firm and make presidential candidates answer our communities on these issues.”

PICO National Network is the largest grassroots, faith-based organizing network in the United States. PICO works with 1,000 religious congregations in more than 200 cities and towns through its 60 local and state federations. PICO and its federations are non-partisan and do not endorse or support candidates for office. PICO urges people of faith to consult their faith traditions for guidance on specific policies and legislation. Learn more at www.piconetwork.org.