In solidarity: A letter from our executive director

Dear CEDAM members and supporters,

The past week has been a heavy and heartbreaking one. With you I mourn the lives of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor — two Black Americans recently murdered by the police — and all those killed before them. I stand in solidarity with the thousands of protesters who are calling for not only justice and accountability, but larger systemic change. 

To stand in solidarity also means to understand the responsibility that I and all white people have to engage in antiracist work. As our partner at the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Diane Yentel, reminded us over the weekend, white people must put in the time to educate ourselves and take action. Following in Ms. Yentel’s example, I am taking some personal steps immediately by donating, with my family, to the Detroit Justice Center, Michigan Liberation, and the Center for Popular Democracy

From Minneapolis to Louisville to the cities we each call home, we should support organizations and movements now and continuously. While individual action is important, it isn’t enough. And “police reform” has proven to be insufficient at best and at worst, counterproductive. We also need:

  • Sustained, enhanced investment in communities by philanthropy, state, federal, and local government
  • Targeted reforms of federal and state policies to combat our history of racism and segregation
  • Ongoing political activism at the city and county levels. Positive change can happen through local budget and personnel decisions. Building power and voting at the local level matters — but it is local elections that have the lowest voter turnout. 

If your organization is engaged in racial justice, ending police violence, and/or citizen engagement work, or you partner closely with an organization who does, please let us know. We want to help share and elevate the work that you are doing. 

At CEDAM our mission is to support our members in creating vibrant, sustainable, and resilient communities. Like addressing discriminatory and inequitable housing policy, addressing police violence is important in achieving that mission. I am reminded of the words of Dr. Amanda Alexander of the Detroit Justice Center, who delivered a brilliant keynote address at our annual conference last year: “We cannot build vibrant cities without building just cities.” 

In solidarity,

Luke Forrest
Executive Director