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Statement Against Racist Violence

We at the Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide stand in solidarity with the Black community and those actively fighting against racism and police violence. We are united in our outrage against police violence against Black women, men, and trans people, and in our grief for the Black lives lost as a result of systemic racism and abuse of power. The police murdered George Floyd. The police murdered Breonna Taylor. These are just the latest victims: we know and remember the hundreds of others who lost their lives as well.

Now, the police are directing violence at those demanding justice and accountability. Protesters are expressing justifiable and long-repressed anger. Their demands are legitimate. And the harm occasioned by sporadic violence against property pales in comparison to the crimes committed by the police.

We are collectively responsible for acknowledging the history and gravity of institutionalized racism. Police violence–like capital punishment–is rooted in centuries of racialized violence. Criminal legal systems in the United States preserve and perpetuate institutionalized racism. But rather than addressing the root causes of violence and racism, governments around the country have responded with mass incarceration, judicial and extrajudicial killings, and violent policing. As a consequence, the current criminal legal system disproportionately harms and dehumanizes Black women, men, and trans people.

The United States has failed to address the structural causes of racial discrimination and inequality. We must collectively work to hold police and other government actors accountable for inflicting and permitting violence against the Black community. We must also act to uproot the institutionalized racism that permeates the criminal legal system. The legal community must protect those exercising their constitutional right to peacefully assemble and demand justice and accountability. And we must all denounce attempts to normalize racialized violence against Black women, men, and trans people in American society.

Black lives matter.


Camilah Hamideh
Delphine M. Lourtau
Dena Rubanowitz
Hailey Shapiro
Joon Lee
Laura Douglas
Randi Kepecs
Rebecca R. Huertas
Sandra L. Babcock
Zhen Yang
Zohra Ahmed