Ending NYPD Violence

Communities United for Police Reform, #Jews4BlackLives, and Safety Beyond Policing

JFREJ has been organizing against police violence for over twenty years.

As a core member of Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), we have worked to protect all New Yorkers’ civil rights and to win transparency, oversight and community control of the NYPD. JFREJ members were central to the passage of the Community Safety Act in 2013, and the Right To Know Act in 2017. As an ally to the Justice Committee and the families of New Yorkers killed by the NYPD, our #Jews4BlackLives actions have helped bring attention to and even win accountability for, the stories of Ramarley Graham, Eric Garner, Eleanor Bumpers, Delrawn Small, Mohammed Bah, and the too many other New Yorkers who have been killed by police. Our work on the issue dates back to 1999, when JFREJ joined citywide organizing in response to the acquittal of the NYPD officers who killed Amadou Diallo.

We believe that all Jews have a responsibility to rise up in defense of our neighbors and civil rights. The Jewish community must defend Jews of Color — especially Black and brown Jews — who are directly impacted by discriminatory and abusive policing.

Alongside our partners in the police accountability and abolition movements, we are fighting for a city where the rights and dignity of all people are cherished and protected, and where Black Lives Matter.

#Jews4BlackLives

Photo of a march over the Brooklyn Bridge. Marchers are carrying a banner that reads "Jews for Black Lives"Photo by Gili Getz

We know with absolute certainty that our belief in Black vision and leadership, and belief that Black Lives Matter, are enduring and unconditional.

In 2016, the Movement for Black Lives released the groundbreaking Vision for Black Lives policy platform. The platform thrilled, moved, inspired, and challenged us. Many in the broader Jewish community — multiracial, and with diverse identities and diverse politics — had intense feelings, both about the platform and about our community's reaction to it.

JFREJ's response was to commit to the long-term process of supporting and wrestling together with the host of diverse issues and solutions proposed by the platform. We committed to showing our Jewish community that nothing can take our eyes off the prize in standing with the Movement for Black Lives to fight white supremacy. JFREJ's Jews of Color Caucus and Campaign for Police Accountability organized a #Jews4BlackLives month of action, which culminated in what was, at the time, the largest-ever mobilization of Jews for Black Lives Matter.

In the years since, JFREJ has continued to lead the way for American Jews to join and support the Movement for Black Lives, particularly during the Uprising for Black Lives that followed the murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020. Our members organized, turned out in the streets, created powerful artwork, made thousands of calls to city council members, and created and released a set of #Jews4BlackLives toolkits drawing strength from our Jewish rituals and traditions to support Jews taking action against anti-Black racism and white supremacy. We also organized #40DaysOfTeshuvah, where, for 40 days straight in the summer of 2020, we gathered every evening to blow the shofar, cry out for spiritual deliverance from systemic racism, and demand justice and freedom for Black lives. See photos from the 40-day action here, and watch a trailer for the short film about it below:

Safety Beyond Policing

JFREJ remains on the front lines of American Jewish community organizing for safety beyond policing. Following the devastating attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in October 2018, more Jews than ever around the country were asking—how can we protect our people? How do we ensure that the choices we make prioritize everyone’s safety and keep our values and humanity intact?

JFREJ responded by creating the Community Safety Pledge in partnership with Jews spanning organizations, synagogues that have used these tools, and our allies in the NYC police accountability movement. Download the Community Safety Pledge [PDF] here.

In recent years, with a spike in antisemitic and other forms of hate violence, our work to ensure safety beyond policing has focused on hate violence prevention. Learn more.