Quakers, Race, and Police Brutality

    September 2, 2020

    Friends Committee on National Legislation

    Friends across the country are speaking out against racism and police violence. Here, we excerpt some of the minutes and statements that they have shared with us.

    A minute from a Quaker meeting or church represents the wording of a decision or agreed-upon action to be taken by the community. Minutes are also powerful advocacy tools to let members of Congress know how their constituents are thinking about and acting on an issue.

    As FCNL works for a society free of racism, we affirm the statements collected here from across the breadth of the Religious Society of Friends:

    For This Time

    Western Yearly Meeting, June 2, 2020

    “For God ‘hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth’ (Acts 17:26). Friends believe that any racial discrimination is essentially a violation of God’s law of love, whether by legal enactment or by inequitable practices that interfere with democratic liberties or cultural or economic development.”

    A Time for Repentance and Transformation

    New England Yearly Meeting, June 5, 2020

    “As Friends serving in leadership on behalf of Quaker communities across New England, we join with people around the world to grieve, and to commit to action in opposition to the evils of racism and white supremacy that are again laid bare in our country … We speak to reclaim the symbols of faith from their use to justify the sins of empire. We speak to publicly recommit ourselves to Truth. Black Lives Matter.”

    Minute on Responding to the Police Violence Against People of Color

    Friends Meeting of Austin, June 7, 2020

    “Friends Meeting of Austin … stands with those protesting the continuing police violence against people of color here in Austin and around our country and we affirm that Black Lives Matter … As Quakers, people of faith with a deep commitment to equality, justice, and peace, we commit to continuing our anti-racist work grounded in Spirit through study, prayer, and action, both locally and nationally.”

    Statement on Racial Injustice

    Evangelical Friends Church International-North America, June 8, 2020

    “The global pandemic and widespread economic stress … serve to add weight and a growing awareness to the attitudes and systems of racial injustice and violence that persist in our country. We recognize this as blatant opposition to God’s design and vision for the world … We also recognize our need to redeem individual attitudes, processes, systems, and institutions that perpetuate injustice on the basis of race or ethnic identity.”

    Minutes for Black Lives

    Sierra-Cascades Yearly Meeting of Friends, June 13, 2020

    “Sierra-Cascades Yearly Meeting of Friends witnesses the current people’s uprising for police accountability and for racial justice, and we take a stand for Black lives. We urge all Quakers, in our yearly meeting and beyond, to do the same in word and action. Neutrality is not an option if we are to fully embrace our underlying Truth as Friends: to recognize God in all people.”

    A Message Regarding State Sanctioned Violence

    Fellowship of Friends of African Descent, June 17, 2020

    “Given the continued murder of Black men and women at the hands of police and vigilantes, we feel the Spirit’s urging to return to our minute … that make[s] recommendations for policing … We believe that Friends have much to contribute to the present public discourse on policing and reimagining a system of peacekeeping based on our testimonies of equality and community.”

    By Alicia McBride, Friends Committee on National Legislation


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