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Juneteenth Messengers of Peace Rally

On June 19th, in Washington, DC. Sumaya Malas delivered the following remarks on behalf of WAND:

Hello, everyone! Thank you all so much for coming out and for giving me the opportunity to speak to you all today. 

What has brought us together, on this Juneteenth, is a mixture of frustration, but also immense hope. 

We are all united in our incorruptible vision that all of us deserve to live in a just, equitable, and peaceful society. But that cannot happen when our leaders have failed to uplift and value everyone in our communities, have wreaked havoc on innocent communities abroad, and have imported those same means of violence to wage war against its own Black citizens. 

The seemingly endless appetite for US militarism abroad has always been a symptom of a disease of aggression towards whoever our society deems undesirable. Did you all know that the same weapons that are used to kill innocent black and brown people in other countries are literally redistributed and used in our local law enforcement? Did you all know that at virtually no cost to local police forces, they can get military-grade guns, armored vehicles, and grenade launchers made for war, that are used to disproportionately police minority communities? Malcom X once said, “You don’t know where you stand in America until you know where America stands in the world”.  I am here to tell you that American militarism abroad and the militarization of police at home are one and the same. We are a nation that allows gross injustices and human rights abuses abroad, convinced that the War on Terror was a noble cause. It has used the guise of “national security”, to wage an indiscriminate military campaign abroad to stunt countries, kill hundreds of thousands, displace millions, and absolutely decimate communities. 

The tenets of U.S. dominance are not limited to these interventions overseas. They have undoubtedly been weaponized to put down our own citizens. At home, so many Wars have claimed black and minority communities, and George Floyd and Breonna Taylor are some of countless casualties. Years of the consistent whitewashing of systematically racist policies, institutions, and wars have only led to more killing and trauma inflicted upon marginalized communities. Whether Black and Brown communities at home, or those abroad, the wanton disregard for life and the appetite for violence can no longer be ignored and needs to be reckoned with. 

So we have all come here, together, to exercise and celebrate our collective rights of liberty, equality, and freedom.  We have the audacity to demand, not *just* that black lives matter, but that black lives can thrive in America, but only if there is justice, and only if there is peace. We have the audacity to claim that the US can do better and be better because our government is for the people and by the people. No longer can anyone hide behind the veneer of American exceptionalism to ignore the trauma or destruction it has inflicted all over the world or right here at home. I look forward to working together to pursue social justice, equality, and full civil liberties to those that are denied it, in order to stop American militarism and end these wars, and find a sustainable and peaceful path forward. 

Thank you all so much. 

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