The Jewish Federation of Louisville has joined the calls for reforms to policing and the unequal treatment of people of color following the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.
Taylor, 26, a Louisville EMT, was shot to death on March 13, when police, armed with a “no-knock” search warrant related to a drug investigation, forced their way into her apartment. No drugs were found. Taylor’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the police.
Floyd, 46, died in police custody for suspicion of counterfeiting on May 25. Three officers pinned him to the pavement while one pressed his knee into his neck for almost nine minutes. Floyd’s final moments were caught on video as he pleaded for his life, saying, “I can’t breathe.”
Matt Goldberg, director of the Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council, recently signed on to a letter demanding that Mayor Greg Fischer appoint independent investigators from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI to investigate the killing of Taylor and for the suspension of no-knock warrants by the Louisville Metro Police.
He said Fischer has acceded to both demands.
“I have spoken with leaders in the African American community here in Louisville and nationally, and the message is clear: We need to work to rectify the inherent racism in power structures so that communities of color can truly realize the American dream,” Goldberg said Friday in an open letter to the community. “As Rev. Kevin Cosby of St. Stephen Church told me, ‘treating people decently is not the same as treating them equally.’”
Goldberg also is working on city-wide coalitions and committees that address the needs of people living on the West End: the Synergy Project, tasked with improving relationships between police and citizens; EmpowerWest, a committee of religious leaders raising awareness of the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, redlining and other discriminatory practices.
“We must also ask why is it that predominantly African American Elliot Avenue in the Russell neighborhood (Breonna’s street) is filled with abandoned homes marred by drug abuse and crime, Goldberg wrote. “Lastly, we should ask ourselves, what role do we need to play as Jews to rectify this situation.
The Federation has outlined a series of ways the community can support change:
- Work for criminal justice reform. The JCRC has has a long-term relationship with the Bail Project, which opposes the “unfair” practice of cash bail while also bailing people out of jail so they are not incarcerated while awaiting trial. (Click here for more information).
- Support “Breonna’s Law,” a proposed measure to severely limit and monitor no-knock warrants, which comes up for a vote this week before Louisville Metro Council. JCRC is urging people to contact members of the Council and urge them to support this measure.
- Support the Louisville Urban League by contributing to its efforts to expand home ownership and business development in the West End. The Federation also supports the Jewish Family & Career Services and L-HOME, which address these issues.
- Support legislation and vote for candidates dedicated to addressing these issues. Go to www.govoteky.com for more information.
- Build relationships with the African American community. Specifically, the Federation suggests visiting the website of Simmons University, a historically black institution of higher learning in Louisville, for details on virtual programs it offers.
“The Talmud teaches that we are not obligated to complete our work of repairing the world, but neither are we free to desist from it,” Goldberg wrote. “It is not too late, the time is now, this is a movement, not a moment.”
Want to help?
Contact Goldberg at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.