Emmett Till Legacy Foundation Responds to recent murders

Statement from Deborah Watts:

Ahmaud Arbery. George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. My heart goes out to the families of these victims. And as the list of families who lose a son, brother, sister, mother or father will not stop growing, I can’t help being overcome by grief and anger. As a cousin of Emmett Till, and the co-founder and Executive Director of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation (ETLF), I know this pain. Through the ETLF, I picked up the mantle from Mamie Till Mobley, Emmett’s mother, to carry on our family’s fight for justice. We are in the 65th year of our fight. I understand how the pain and struggle for justice endures, keeps you up at night and consumes your days. The pain is generational. The mental anguish can take a tragic toll on family members and entire communities.

Sadly, with each senseless killing, the line that connects back to Emmett and his brutal murder at the hands of at least two white men keeps growing bolder and thicker; the past is the here and now. Our nation seems to be trapped in a tragic loop of violence and racism where Black people continue to die in present day lynchings.

To Wanda Cooper-Jones and Marcus Arbery, your son will not be forgotten and I stand in solidarity with you, your family, as well as the families of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. We are in this fight for justice together and join them in demanding full accountability for those responsible for their senseless deaths.

We have to break this cycle, we have to right the wrongs. The Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act passed the House in February of this year and awaits the Senate to take action to bring this legislation to the floor for a vote. This Act specifically cites lynchings like Arbery’s as a deprivation of civil rights and would cover what has happened in Brunswick, Georgia. The state has no law that provides for specific hate crimes prosecutions, which is why our Senators must act swiftly and decisively.

This fight for justice in memory of Ahmaud, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Philando Castille, Michael Brown, Rekia Boyd, Tamir Rice, Oscar Grant and too many others to name here, must be waged on multiple fronts, including locally and nationally.

You should know that, in addition to legislation intended to address those who commit racist crimes, there are also two proposed legislative initiatives that create a pathway forward to empower the families of the victims. In Minnesota, it’s called the Emmett Louis Till Victims Recovery Program and on the federal level, there is the Victims of Racially Motivated Murder Act, which will right some of historical wrongs of the past and allow victims’ families and communities to be restored. We will keep you updated on both initiatives.

In the meantime, we urge you to honor Ahmaud’s life and take immediate action by calling your U.S. Senators to request that H.R. 35, the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act, be heard and called for a vote immediately.

Deborah Watts
Co-founder and Executive Director
Emmett Till Legacy Foundation
763 476 8677
info@emmetttilllegacyfoundation.com https://emmetttilllegacyfoundation.com
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