John Legend, Natalie Portman, Lizzo and more stars have signed an open letter in support of defunding the police and using the money to increase spending in education, health care and programs for black communities.
The letter is in conjunction with the Black Lives Matter movement and Blackout Tuesday, which centered on the music business stopping business for a day, on Tuesday, June 2, to show solidarity amid racial injustices in the U.S.
The “open demand” letter, which was created by Movement 4 Black Lives, a coalition of more than 100 organizations representing black communities, hopes to fight systematic racism and change the narrative across the country. Instead of increasing police budgets, the initiative calls for repurposing the money for positive resources that’ll create a better future for all.
“I think it’s so powerful that the industry is taking a pause tomorrow to honor the movement in this way, it’s a really huge show of support,” Black Lives Matter and Movement 4 Black Lives cofounder Patrisse Cullors told Variety on Monday, June 1. “We’re also in a moment where many people can really examine how law enforcement is impacting the community, and what they can do specifically to create a new way of being when it comes to law enforcement — and what I mean by that is, one of our central demands right now is defunding law enforcement, reallocating those monies that it has received throughout the years and giving it back to the communities.”
Legend, 41, Portman, 38, Lizzo, 32, Taraji P. Henson, Common and Jane Fonda are among the group of stars who’ve signed the petition that coincides with the movement’s Week of Action in Defense of Black Lives.
According to Cullors, 36, the music community has been very receptive to the group’s efforts following George Floyd’s death at the hands of four police officers in Minneapolis on May 25, and the protests that have followed in the U.S. and the rest of the world.
“There are a lot of musicians joining our movement and showing up in an authentic way,” she told the outlet, noting she’s spoken with Lizzo and the general manager of Motown Records, Marc Byers, about the cause.
The activist, who has also gained support from Yara Shahidi and Megan Rapinoe as signees on the letter, told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview published on Tuesday that the organization hopes the message of accountability and action will continue to spread.
“Our vision is for a world rooted in the care and love and humanity for every human being,” she explained. “A world that relies on an economy of care versus one with an economy of punishment. An abolitionist believes in freedom.”
In addition to signing the letter, which is available online, celebrities like Chrissy Teigen, Blake Lively and The Weeknd, have donated to the cause and some have sent money to bail out protestors who’ve been fighting for justice following outrage over Floyd’s death, which the coroner described as a homicide. Others have taken part in the global protests and been vocal about the need for change.
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