How you can help in Brooklyn Center right now

photo of Kamau Wilkins
Kamau Wilkins

My heart is broken. Again, another Black man, Daunte Wright, has been murdered by the police, this time in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota -- just 11 miles from where George Floyd was killed by police last year. While shocking to many, it's sadly not a shock to me, as a Black man in America. Most white people have never been pulled over for an air freshener hanging from their rearview mirror, or worried for their life in a traffic stop, but it is a far too common violent -- and often even deadly -- occurrence for people of color. 

I also want to acknowledge the hurt being felt by Black communities everywhere, for whom this violence is all too real. I know discussions like this can be triggering. To all of our white supporters, I am asking you to offer empathy and support -- and to call you in to grieve with us, show up and take action. I'm sure so many folks are exhausted, but now is not the time to be silent. 

The structures of racism and oppression are set up to exhaust us, divide us, and frighten us. They try to prevent us from joining in solidarity with each other and seizing power from the powerful so that we can create communities where everyone can thrive, with clean air, water, energy, and a stable climate for all.

We continue to grieve as Minnesotans, and also across this country in the hundreds of communities where police violence, brutality and murder are all too common. This is just the most recent police murder of a Black man, after centuries of racialized and state-sanctioned violence across the country. From the deaths of Freddie Grey in Baltimore to Michael Brown in Ferguson to Philando Castile in Falcon Heights and too many more -- this fight against police violence is not new. And it's not going away without a concerted effort from everyone -- including you and me. The fight to end racism and police brutality is part of Sierra Club's fight -- because all of our fights are connected.

While we are waiting to learn more, we must reiterate that police violence and killings of Black people must end, as must the over-policing and racial profiling that are endemic to our white supremacist system of policing. Further progress and commitment are needed from all our local and state leaders to create policies that dismantles the continued militarization of police. We must all recognize that the core issue in public safety is state and local leaders' lack of a deep and fervent commitment to Anti-Racism. This must end.

Sierra Club's mission is to create a livable planet for everyone, but we can't do that if our Black, Latinx, Asian, and Indigenous friends and communities fear for their lives due to a racist policing system. The issues of anti-Black racism, police violence, and ecological destruction are intrinsically connected. We're in this ecological and societal mess because many corporate and political leaders treat Black, Brown and Indigenous communities, poor people, and the natural world as disposable.  And the police facilitate, enforce and perpetrate this unjust system. We need to demand a massive structural shift in the design and objectives of our criminal justice system. 

And here's what we can do right now: support groups who are doing the work, day in and out -- communities who have been working for decades to stop police violence and create healthy, safe communities for all. Educate yourself about police abolition and how we, together, can reimagine community safety.[1]

Donate to support these local groups in Minnesota, amplify their voices on social media, and learn more about them: 

38th and Chicago Ave
Rochester Community Initiative
Documenting MN
Atlas of Blackness
Brooklyn Center Mutual Aid

These are just some of the amazing folks doing powerful work in our community. I would also like to share the organization I co-founded, Rochester for Justice, which works to bring about racial justice and awareness through education, advocacy, and community organizing.

Together is the only way we can create the future we need where everyone is free to enjoy a clean and beautiful environment. Together we can solve all of our interrelated problems, no matter what they are.

Kamau Wilkins
Chair, Minnesota Sierra Club, North Star Chapter

[1] MPD 150: A People's Project Evaluating Policing.

Further Reading
Hop Hopkins, "Racism is Killing the Planet." Sierra Club Blog.
"What Does Pollution Have To Do With Police Violence?Grist, June 2020.
Bill McKibbon, "Racism, Police Violence, and the Climate are Not Separate Issues," The New Yorker, June 2020