NKCDC has been quietly working over the last week while the nation and Philadelphia erupts in anger, sadness, and frustration. As tensions flared in Fishtown over the last two nights, it became painfully clear that our silence was part of the problem. We cannot escape the history of race in this country and this city. Systemic and overt racism power the things that we fight against daily: poverty, disinvestment, redlining, trauma, and prejudice. Now more than ever we understand the struggle for racial equity is essential to fulfilling our mission.
In this moment, we must call attention to the stark difference between the peaceful protests against the systems of oppression that plague our nation and the armed group which assembled in Fishtown on Monday night. This vigilante mob does not represent the broader community of diverse, resilient neighbors and businesses that we serve.
We condemn those who take up arms to intimidate and assault protesters, the press, and neighbors. We call upon the police officers to look inward, examine their own bias, and commit to do better. Instead of protecting our community, these officers rewarded and confirmed the discrimination and racism that is alive in our systems, communities, and even hearts.
NKCDC’s mission—to advance social equity and economic empowerment by nurturing and creating opportunities for residents to live in, and actively shape, their neighborhoods of choice—requires working closely with people and organizations who support our communities. We are grateful for the opportunities and conversations we have fostered with city agencies and the police districts that serve our residents and businesses. In this moment, we call on the Philadelphia police and city government to work with the community to use de-escalation and mediation tactics in place of aggressive force and stand up to protect our black and brown neighbors.
We stand in solidarity with local and national protests against racism. We support all people standing up for justice and equity in our nation. Last night’s peaceful demonstrations remind us that unity and solidarity are more powerful than hate.
Fishtown, Kensington, and Port Richmond are strong, resilient neighborhoods with caring and passionate residents. As we support them in finding a way forward, we are committed to:
- Transforming our organizational policies to allow diversity to flourish, continually reflecting on individual bias, and furthering systemic change;
- Advocating for funding to support our communities and people of color everywhere;
- Supporting the efforts of individuals and organizations addressing equity in Philadelphia and nationwide;
- Encouraging, supporting, and engaging in productive dialogue around equity;
- And encouraging all of our neighbors take time to grieve our recent losses. We will take time to heal and will transform that grief into action.
We see you. We hear you. We stand with you ready for change.
Bea J.E. Rider
Interim Executive Director
and the NKCDC Board of Directors