Following the Black Music Action Coalition’s (BMAC) inaugural Music in Action Awards on Sept. 23, the organization has written a letter to President Joe Biden calling for his support of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, “beginning with ensuring that it is brought to the Senate floor for a vote.”
The two-page letter that was sent Wednesday (Oct. 6), obtained by Billboard, states, “We, and our fellow music industry advocacy organizations, feel a responsibility to speak up in the face of unavoidable issues like police violence. We cannot simply stand by and conduct business as usual when Black people across the nation are being unjustly executed by those sworn to protect American communities.”
The BMAC’s Music in Action Awards honored The Weeknd, H.E.R., Motown chairman/CEO Ethiopia Habtemariam and civil rights attorney Ben Crump, among others. In the letter, Crump says, “We don’t want to hear that you can’t take this bill to the floor.”
Signed by BMAC co-founders/co-chairs Caron Veazey and Willie “Prophet” Stiggers, “With justice on our minds and hope in our hearts”, the letter closes with a declaration from Prophet: “Mr. President, if Black Lives Matter, please prove it! Do Black lives only matter during an election cycle? You will be held accountable for the promises you made to our community, our country, and to the daughter of George Floyd!”
Read the BMAC letter in full below.
October 6, 2021
President Joe Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500
Re: George Floyd Justice in Policing Act
Dear President Biden:
The whole world watched. Was it 8 minutes and 46 seconds? Or the updated, and unfathomable, 9 minutes and 29 seconds? Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. The minutes it took to snuff out the life of George Floyd changed the world forever. Outraged and horrified, people from around the globe spilled into the streets with focus, intent, and a clear message: POLICE BRUTALITY AND POLICE MURDER MUST STOP.
While change has been long overdue for years, it was the unequivocal video footage of George Floyd’s murder by police that finally caused many Americans to demand real and significant changes to our system of law enforcement. It is imperative that our legislators implement the protections necessary to prevent the further state-sanctioned slaughter of Black people.
We write to you today on behalf of the Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC). At our recent BMAC Music In Action Awards, we had the great fortune to honor Attorney Ben Crump for his work in fighting for social and racial justice — especially for the families of those who have died at the hands of police. We are compelled to pursue next steps in creating actionable change to the laws governing policing in America.
In his recent Washington Post op-ed, Attorney Ben Crump voiced his support for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, explaining, “The bill contains — and must retain — critical provisions to end chokeholds and carotid holds, and to eliminate qualified immunity, which shields officers from most civil lawsuits. It would drive accountability by finally creating a national police misconduct registry and by allowing state attorneys and the U.S. Justice Department to conduct ‘pattern and practice’ investigations of police departments to root out toxic police cultures and identify where chronically inadequate training and discipline are creating a threat to the people being policed.” As Attorney Crump said in his BMAC Agent of Change Award acceptance speech, “We don’t want to hear that you can’t take this bill to the floor, because George Floyd deserves to have that bill go to the floor of the United States Senate, and to have a vote, because we voted for you to stand up when it is time to stand up!”
We, and our fellow music industry advocacy organizations, feel a responsibility to speak up in the face of unavoidable issues like police violence. We cannot simply stand by and conduct business as usual when Black people across the nation are being unjustly executed by those sworn to protect American communities. Songwriters of North America (SONA) stated, “The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act presents an opportunity for President Biden and our legislators to effect important and historic change. SONA co-founder and board member, Dina LaPolt, was a BMAC Agent of Change Award recipient at this year’s inaugural BMAC Music in Action Awards, along with Attorney Ben Crump. She has spent her entire life tirelessly fighting for racial justice and has been pivotal in engaging the rest of our industry in legislative issues both within and outside of the music business. In Dina’s recent acceptance speech, she spoke about the unacceptable prevalence of systemic racism still existing in the U.S., promising, ‘I will never take my foot off the gas pedal.’ As an organization, we echo her sentiments: we will not stop until justice can thrive in America.”
The American people have spent over a year endlessly protesting, spreading awareness, and encouraging their legislators to take action. We will continue to write to our representatives, and we will continue to protest in the streets, but unfortunately, there is only so much that we can do; we need the full support of our leaders in Congress to ensure that our goals for a better America do not remain only goals, but that our goals are actually met, and brought to fruition. Whether they are making the senseless murder of our people a partisan issue, or whether they simply do not care, many of our elected politicians have chosen to stand on the wrong side of history.
Considering the never-ending headlines about our brothers and sisters losing their lives at the hands of American police officers, we expect that you will do whatever it takes to support the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, beginning with ensuring that it is brought to the Senate floor for a vote.
“I will never forget sitting in the chapel in St. Louis for the funeral of our brother, George Floyd. Fellow BMAC Co-Founder and board member, Shawn Holiday and I, were engulfed in emotions and frustration. I watched you, the presidential candidate at the time, as your face appeared on the screens, and you made a promise to the Black community, George Floyd’s family, and to America. You told George Floyd’s daughter that her father would change the world. Now that we have elected you President of the United States, I’ve anxiously waited and watched several executive orders get signed. But we are still waiting for the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act? Mr. President, if Black Lives Matter, please prove it! Do Black lives only matter during an election cycle? You will be held accountable for the promises you made to our community, our country, and to the daughter of George Floyd!” -Willie “Prophet” Stiggers
How can you Build Back Better and push to pass a bill that addresses America’s infrastructure, without addressing the cracks in America’s soul?
With justice on our minds and hope in our hearts,
Willie “Prophet” Stiggers
Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC)
Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC)
cc: Vice President Kamala Harris; Senator Cory Booker; Senator Tim Scott; Representative Karen Bass