Statement from the Leadership of the Urban League Movement

Knoxville Area Urban League President and CEO, Phyllis Y. Nichols, National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial, along with Urban League affiliate leaders from around the country, issued the following statement in response to the civil unrest sweeping the nation:

Our communities are overwhelmed with grief. We are heartsick over the inhumanity we have witnessed in the recent deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. We are appalled by the callous response from the authorities who shrugged in the face of evil. Cities across the nation have erupted in rage and despair.

As civil rights leaders who are committed to racial justice, we share the protesters’ anguish, and the heartbreak of the communities where uprisings have turned violent. There are those who are inciting violence and mayhem. And there are those engaged in peaceful protest. No one should assume they are the same people, and we refute any attempt to discredit or dismiss the just cause for which people are marching based on infiltrators bent on sabotage. We support the right of citizens to engage in peaceful protest. We condemn the use of excessive force to dispel demonstrations. We are hearing what Martin Luther King, Jr., famously called “the language of the unheard.” When George Floyd begged for his life as Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s throat, he was unheard. The onlookers pleading with Chauvin to stop were unheard.

The cries for justice have gone unheard long enough.

The long-overdue arrests of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers and one of the officers involved in George Floyd’s death are merely a first step in a long journey. The other officers involved in Floyd’s killing also must be held accountable.

The Urban League Movement has proposed specific recommendations for police reform and accountability. These include the widespread use of body cameras and dashboard cameras, revision of use-of-force policies, officer training and hiring standards, and the immediate appointment of independent prosecutors to investigate police misconduct. But even more than these measures, we need a revision of our culture. It’s a culture that teaches a white woman walking her dog in Central Park that racially-motivated police brutality is a weapon she can use to enforce her own preferred social code. As we pursue these measures to reform the police in our communities, we call upon all community leaders, elected officials, corporate leaders and social institutions to join us in pursuing policies that promote racial reconciliation.

About the Knoxville Area Urban League
Since 1968, the Knoxville Area Urban League has assisted disadvantaged people attain social and economic stability and self-sufficiency through direct services and advocacy. The Urban League pushes for greater resources and more effective policies to advance economic and social equality. The League works to provide a skilled and diverse workforce; to increase homeownership; to support economic and small business development, and to enhance education efforts for our youth. The Knoxville Area Urban League is a United Way partner agency and affiliate of the National Urban League. The League’s work and results are evident in the lives of the over 10,000 people it impacts each year. For more information, call 865-524-5511 or visit www.thekaul.org.

The Urban League Movement is comprised of the National Urban League and its 90 affiliates, serving 300 communities in 36 states and the District of Columbia.

· Phyllis Y. Nichols, Knoxville Area Urban League
· Marc H. Morial, National Urban League
· Warren E. Logan, Jr., Urban League of Greater Chattanooga
· Clifton Harris, Urban League of Middle Tennessee
· Tonja Sesley-Baymon, Memphis Urban League
· Brenda W. McDuffie, Buffalo Urban League
· Gilbert Bland, Urban League of Hampton Roads, Inc.
· N. Charles Anderson, Urban League of Detroit & Southeast Michigan
· Germaine Smith-Baugh, Urban League of Broward County
· Esther Bush, Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh
· Otha Meadows, Charleston Trident Urban League
· Tiffany Majors, Greater Baltimore Urban League
· Jennifer Lesko, Broome County Urban League
· Eddie L. Koen, Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio
· Cassandra Jennings, Greater Sacramento Urban League
· Andrea Custis, Urban League of Philadelphia
· James T. McLawhorn, Columbia Urban League
· Parris Smith, Lorain County Urban League
· Ray King, Urban League of San Diego County
· George Dean, Greater Phoenix Urban League
· Arva Rice, New York Urban League
· Thomas Warren, Urban League of Nebraska
· Nancy Flake Johnson, Urban League of Greater Atlanta
· Michelle Merriweather, Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle
· James Perry, Winston-Salem Urban League
· Sorraya Sampson, Urban League of Westchester County
· P.G. Peeples, Urban League of Lexington-Fayette County
· Henry Thomas III, Urban League of Springfield
· Muhammad Umar, Urban League of Hudson County
· Watson Haynes, Pinellas County Urban League
· William Barnes, Birmingham Urban League
· Brenda Walker McCain, Madison County Urban League
· Dr. Eve M. Hall, Milwaukee Urban League
· Ruben Anthony, Urban league of Greater Madison
· Judy Morse, Urban League of Louisiana
· Erin Houston, Shenango Valley Urban League
· Glenton Gilzean, Central Florida Urban League
· Theodia Gillespie, Quad County Urban League
· Diane Stevens Robinson, Greater Stark County Urban League
· William Teddy McDaniel, Urban League of Central Carolinas, Inc.
· Teresa LeGrair, Akron Community Service Ctr & Urban League
· Scott Hamilton, The Urban League of the State of Arkansas
· Nina Harris, Springfield Urban League Inc.
· T’wina Nobles, Tacoma Urban League
· George H. Lambert Jr., Greater Washington Urban League
· Steve Belton, Urban League of the Twin Cities
· Sadiqa Reynolds, Louisville Urban League
· Valerie Thompson, Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City
· Marsha Mockabee, Urban League of Greater Cleveland
· Sean Dogan, Urban League of the Upstate, Inc.
· Vanessa Allen McCloud, Urban League of Northwest Indiana
· David Hopkins, Urban League of Greater Hartford
· Gwendolyn Grant, Urban League of Greater Kansas City
· Vivian Cox-Fraser, Urban League of Essex County
· Karen Freeman-Wilson, Chicago Urban League
· Seanelle Hawkins, Urban League of Rochester, Inc.
·] Thomas Conley, Greater-Warren Youngstown Urban League
· Stephanie Hightower, Columbus Urban League
· Laraine Bryson, Tri-County Urban League
· Quincy Dunlap, Austin Area Urban League
· Beneta Burt, Mississippi Urban League
· James Hall, Urban League of Racine & Kenosha, Inc.
· Reverend Vincent Bell, Urban League of Greater Columbus, Inc.
· Michael Lawson, Los Angeles Urban League
· Michael McMillan, Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis
· Patrick Franklin, Urban League of Palm Beach County, Inc.
· Tony Mason, Indianapolis Urban League
· Richard Danford, Jacksonville Urban League
· Judson Robinson, Houston Area Urban League
· Kyra Wallace, Southwestern Michigan Urban League
· Theresa Sanders, Urban League of Long Island
· Dr. Quinton Dixie, Fort Wayne Urban League
· Joseph Jones, Grand Rapids Urban League
· Tracee Adams, Urban League of Kansas, Inc.
· Diane McLaughlin, Northern Virginia Urban League
· Donna Lowe Alexander, Urban League of Union County, Inc.