Oxfam New Zealand supports this statement from our US colleagues, and stands with those protesting institutionalised racism and injustice:
Oxfam condemned the excessive force used by police and military forces in cities across the United States against protesters, members of the media, and bystanders in recent days, as well as the violent rhetoric emanating from the White House. In response, Abby Maxman, President and CEO of Oxfam America, made the following statement:
“The freedom to assemble and protest is a cornerstone of our American democracy and fundamental to who we are as Americans. The streets of our cities are not warzones, and people on those streets are not combatants.
“Oxfam strongly believes in the power of people to make systemic change. We stand shoulder to shoulder with those who demand justice, accountability, and decisive action to end the institutionalised racism that persists in the US, and we loudly affirm that BLACK LIVES MATTER.
“As a rights-based organisation, Oxfam works every day to end the injustice of poverty and uphold the fundamental human rights of vulnerable people. As a humanitarian organisation working around the world, we have seen firsthand the devastating consequences of suppressing peaceful protest and the right to dissent.
“The US historically has championed democracy and human rights around the world, including the fundamental freedoms to participate, protest, and speak out, all of which are under attack today here at home. Rather than stand with the oppressed in the pursuit of a more perfect democracy, President Trump appears to be taking his cues from some of the very regimes the US has previously criticised.
“The sight of military vehicles on our streets and predator drones in our skies in response to peaceful protests is shocking and devastating. People of colour have shouldered the brunt of militarised over-policing for years, supported by the 1033 Program which allows the Pentagon to transfer weapons of war to the streets of cities and towns across our country. Around the world and here at home, the militarisation of police forces threatens the human rights of citizens to express dissent.
“We call on Congress to urgently end this problematic practice of transferring military equipment to police forces right now. We support the bipartisan efforts currently underway to urgently amend the National Defence Authorisation Act to end the 1033 Program under which those transfers take place.
“Today, and every other day, we stand with those demanding justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Aubrey, and the countless other black people who were killed by a racist and broken American system. And we ask that all of us join in the movement to right the wrongs of discrimination and hate in our country.”