Black Lives Matter

~ A Statement from the Big Bend AFTER Reentry Coalition ~

Members of the Board of Directors of the Big Bend AFTER Reentry Coalition want to express how heartbroken and outraged we are at the senseless and vicious murder of George Floyd as the latest victim at the hands of police.  We are also deeply concerned about recent police-involved killings of Black people in Tallahassee.  We wholeheartedly respect the life of every individual and embrace the values of equity and justice for all people. 

During our time serving, supporting, and collaborating with currently and formerly incarcerated people in the Big Bend area, we have been repeatedly reminded of the marginalization, oppression, and killings of Black community members by law enforcement officers across our nation and in our local communities. This pattern began with slavery, and continued with Jim Crow, and has made its way into the present in the form of mass incarceration and violence against people of color. 

Police in the United States have killed 7,666 people, most of them Black Americans, between 2013 and 2019.  According to the Innocence Network, “the number of police killings in the country disproportionately affects Black people, who are three times as likely as white [people] to be killed by the police. And rarely is there ever any accountability; in 99% of the cases where an officer killed a civilian … the officer was not charged with a crime.” 

Many people reentering society from incarceration are uncertain about their day-to-day lives and struggle with the collateral consequences of involvement with the criminal justice system. We wish for them to be certain of one thing: Black Lives Matter. We commit to supporting policies that reduce violence and will continue to use our strong and positive long-term relationships with local law enforcement officials to advocate for these policies. We also seek to engage in a broader conversation about how we can confront racism to build a more just and peaceful community. 

We commit to using our strength as a coalition to bring together our diverse partners which include people who are formerly incarcerated and in government, law enforcement, education, the criminal justice system, faith-based organizations, and social service agencies to address these challenges and work together to implement impactful change in the Big Bend region.  We believe that the Big Bend AFTER Reentry Coalition serves as a model of what is possible.  

Rachel Bunting

Ed Dixon 

Dustin Feddon 

Edrene Johnson

Freda King

Carla Laroche

Mark Lazarus

Anne Meisenzahl

Beth Nichols

The named individuals signed onto this statement in their personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this statement are the individuals’ own and do not necessarily reflect the views of their employers.