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June 1, 2020 11:54 am

As Protests Over Police Killing of George Floyd Continue, Top US Jewish Group Slams ‘Racist and Unjust System’ Faced by Black Americans

avatar by Ben Cohen

Protesters gather at the scene where George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was pinned down by a police officer kneeling on his neck before later dying in hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 26, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Eric Miller.

The leading Jewish civil rights organization in the US declared its solidarity with black communities “suffering at the hands of a racist and unjust system” as protests sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis last week continued.

In a statement issued over the weekend, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) emphasized that Floyd’s killing reflected the “deep, pervasive, systemic issues” confronting African-Americans.

“We stand in solidarity with Black and Brown communities across the country as they yet again are subject to pain and suffering at the hands of a racist and unjust system,” the statement — issued by ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt — declared.

The ADL strongly criticized the fact that three of the four police officers who were involved in arresting Floyd had not, so far, faced  criminal charges. The fourth officer, Derek Chauvin — who pinned his knee upon Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes after the latter was forced to the ground — was charged on Friday by the Hennepin County Attorney with unintentional murder and manslaughter.

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“While it is a necessary first step in the pathway towards justice that former Officer Derek Chauvin was taken into custody, it is simply not enough,” the ADL statement said. “Based on the horrifying cell phone footage that has rightfully outraged Americans across the country, it is clear that the three other former officers who participated in Mr. Floyd’s death need to be held responsible for their actions to the fullest extent of our legal system.”

A range of Jewish organizations also voiced their concerns, with the American Jewish Committee (AJC) criticizing US President Donald Trump’s bellicose rhetoric in the wake of the killing.

“At a time of national crisis, triggered by the abhorrent, racist murder of George Floyd, we need our leaders to summon the best in us,” the AJC tweeted. “POTUS, dividing a country & pouring fuel on the fire are not the ways to go.”

Other groups placed Floyd’s death in the broader context of young black men being shot or killed during encounters with the police.

“Our sorrow is further compounded by the recent killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, another act of ugly and violent racism,” a statement from the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of New York asserted. “56 years after the historic signing of the Civil Rights Act, hopes for equal rights for Blacks and other communities of color have been dashed again by blatant acts of bigotry and bloodshed.”

In a statement issued on Monday, the Orthodox Union (OU) declared itself “saddened, sickened, and outraged to have seen another broadcast video of an African-American man dying at the hands of police officers.”

Racism remained “a real and present danger that must be met head on,” the OU statement said. “As religious Jews, we believe the most important starting point for the national discourse that must take place is the recognition that all people are created in the image of G-d and that each human life is of infinite value.”

The rise in antisemitism over the last year had left the US Jewish community “acutely sensitive to the essential imperative to foster tolerance and respect in this highly diverse society in which we live,” the OU emphasized.

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