Brooklyn Councilwoman Farah Louis has been in office for just one year, but she’s already demonstrated her strong activism.
On Tuesday, Caribbean Life asked the daughter of Haitian immigrants why it was important for her to participate in demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice.
“On the heels of yet another unarmed Black man killed by police — George Floyd in Minneapolis, I marched alongside thousands of peaceful protesters to demand police accountability, racial justice, and equality,” said Louis, who represents the 45th Council District in Brooklyn. “I rally and continue to #saytheirnames because the men, women and children killed by police in this city and across the nation look like me.
“I persist because any of these instances could have happened to me or any of my loved ones,” she added. “I protest because I represent a community where community-police relations have been strained by the excessive force used against civilians of all ages – in our homes and in our streets.
“This tumultuous relationship has spanned across generations who are survivors of police violence, having lost loved ones or must cope with physical and emotional scars inflicted during personal encounters with the NYPD,” Louis continued. “This generation has had to grow up witnessing the police murder us in broad daylight on video for being Black in America.”
She said the blatant disregard for Black lives is evident in the threatening nature of uniformed officers during recent weeks of anti-police brutality protests, the inappropriate comments made by law enforcement from top brass to rank and file members nationwide, and the “pervasiveness of white privilege that has weaponized the use of law enforcement against us.”
Louis said the City of New York, particularly the 45th Council District, , is home to thousands of Caribbean families who have immigrated to the US to build a better life.
“In spite of the discrimination that many of us have experienced, we remained undeterred in the pursuit of opportunity,” she affirmed. “Some sought to support their community and change the system’s disparate treatment of Black people by joining the NYPD, only to be misaligned with values that are contrary to their own personal beliefs and then retaliated against for speaking out.
“We went from saying, ‘don’t shoot’ to ‘I can’t breathe’ as bad actors within the police department continue to veer away from proper protocols and procedures to utilize inhumane tactics to subdue us without regard for the high risk for mortality,” she added.
Louis said the weight of the “law” is suffocating Black communities who remain oppressed – grappling with racial profiling and bias, overincarceration, income and health disparities.
“We have to change public perception that being Black in America is equivalent to a death sentence. #BLACKLIVESMATTER today and everyday — without question,” she said.
As co-chair of the New York City Council Women’s Caucus, Louis said she is proud that women have been at the forefront of this movement.
“I believe there is nothing more powerful than people of all ages working collectively to uproot the systemic racism that has devastated families and communities by speaking out against the injustices,” she said, noting that these past several weeks of protests in New York City have sparked a movement that continues to gain momentum, “which I hope will mobilize more Black New Yorkers to become civically engaged.”
The legislator said now is the time to invoke change on both local and national levels “by not only rallying in our streets but also the chambers of government where public policy takes shape.
“History has taught us what we can achieve when we are united and committed to one cause,” she said. “We must look to our past – the abolitionists, civil rights activists, freedom fighters, and leaders who have given us the blueprint to amplify Black voices and effect lasting change through a movement powered by the people.”
Louis pointed to the late Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, a Brooklyn native, of Barbadian and Guyanese parentage, and trailblazer, who said: “the one thing you’ve got going: your one vote.”
“Voting is our civic duty and responsibility to create a better tomorrow for our families, particularly our children,” Louis said. “Regardless of one’s age, we need to start or join community conversations with our elected officials to ensure that we have a seat at the table, our voices are heard, and needs are met.”
Louis said voting works, that “it changes lives and the course of history.
“Together, we must become more engaged in building our community by voting in every election and completing the Census, which will shape our future over the next decade,” she said. “We deserve fair representation and allocation of resources that will put us on the path towards economic and housing stability.
“We must continue these conversations throughout our community – in our homes, schools, small businesses such as barber shops, beauty salons, and houses of worship – to mobilize today’s and tomorrow’s generation,” she urged.
“Our power lies in our ability to work collectively towards one cause,” she added. “Let us use it for the greater good- uplifting each other and our community for generations to come.”
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